Far away from the media glare, the City of Johannesburg and Standard Bank are polishing rough diamonds, hoping to turn them into the Hugh Masekelas and Sibongile Khumalos of tomorrow.
The National Youth Jazz Band, which performed at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival at the Sandton Convention Centre at the weekend, is one of the fruits of that collaboration.
Led by award-winning bassist and music teacher Concorde Nkabinde, the band performed at an initially empty Diphala stage on Friday night.
“The guys were initially a bit nervous and there were few people watching. But towards the end, the venue filled up. Since ours was the only performance at the time, people naturally gravitated to where the music was coming from and there was a sizeable number when we finished our set,” said Nkabinde, the 2006 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year.
The band comprises Thami Mahlangu on tenor sax (Tshwane University of Technology), Lorenzo Blignaut on trumpet (Delft Big Band in Cape Town), Marcelle Adams on trumpet (Delft), Phuti Sepuru on piano (University of Pretoria), Bradley Prince on guitar (UCT), Dalisu Ndlazi on bass (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Tshiamo Nkoane on drums (TUT) and Keorapatse Kolwane on vocals (TUT).
It delivered tunes such as Duke Ellington’s Caravan and former band alumni Tutu Pouane’s Motsumi. Sipho "Hotstix' Mabuse’s Burnout and Pharell Williams’s Get Lucky were given a jazzy treatment.
“Pouane’s Motsumi is not an easy tune but the guys insisted on playing it and they acquitted themselves very well. The compliments from the audience were very positive. These young guns are way better than some of the professionals I’ve played with. They blew me away with their level of playing and I’m planning to book them for some of my gigs,” said Nkabinde.
The City and Standard Bank are also involved in Geleza Kleva and Learn, a series of workshops by industry veterans who talk to learners about the business side of music, different careers and challenges. Some of the areas that have hosted these workshops include Alexandra, Orange Farm and Soweto.
UK-born and SA-raised Estelle Kokot was one of the artists who interacted with the students a few days before the festival.