Make Music Los Angeles Mass Appeal Events today!!!!!

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Make Music LA Concerts June 21st All Over Los Angeles!!!!

MMLA LOgoMMLA June 21 Free concert

 

 

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Listen to the 3 Hour Tribute to Ornette Coleman with The Jazzcat and Bo Leibowitz on KCRW

ornette-coleman sScreen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.51.22 PM Click on any picture above to listen to the

3 hour tribute to the Great

Ornette Coleman

Bo Lebowitz and LeRoy Downs spinning a musical tribute to one of the most daring, path carving, brilliant innovators in Jazz, Mr. Ornette Coleman.

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His inspiration has lead many on the search inside themselves for true, honest,original  sound! The Texas Blues! May his soul rest in peace!

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If you missed,  click on pictures up top and join us again! Originally broadcast @ 3AM  Friday Night / Saturday Morning on 89.9 FM KCRW.Com  on Strictly Jazz!!

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  Bo Leibowitz and LeRoy Downs trading sets, sharing stories and honoring the life of  one of the finest men in jazz!!!

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  Saturday June 13th

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3am – 6am Los Angeles

 Progressive Jazz Music Lovers from all over the world UNITE!

New York  London  Chicago  New Orleans  Tokyo  Paris  Istanbul  Brussels  Moscow Washington Poland Copenhagen TUNE-IN!!! Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 11.31.43 AM

To Listen Click KCRW Above

 Don’t Sleep !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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LeRoy Downs Hosting Munyungo Jackson’s Jungle Jazz at The Blue Whale!

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Saturday June 6th

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Jungle Jazz At The Blue Whale

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Euro Zambrano, Karen Briggs, Jimmy Haslip

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With your host LeRoy Downs

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Special Guest Katisse Plays with the Santa Monica High School Bands at Catalina’s!

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The George Duke Legacy Project – Symphonic Jazz Orchestra announces George Duke Commissioning Prize

Major crowd funding campaign pays homage to the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’sco-music director and legendary composer/keyboardist

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To honor the legacy of the trailblazing musician, former Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO) Co-Music Director and ASCAP board member, George Duke, the SJO has recently opened the George Duke Commissioning Prize competition to all direct ASCAP composer members, with a submission deadline of July 17th. The Music Advisory Board of the SJO will select the winning composer, who will be commissioned to write a new orchestral score for the SJO blending jazz & classical music – and more. The newly commissioned work will be premiered by the 67-piece SJO in 2016/17 and entered in to the SJO’s catalog of symphonic jazz commissions.

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The late composer and keyboard player, George Duke (1946 – 2013), was a peerless musical innovator and creator, as well as a mentor to many. His output as a recording artist was vast, from collaborations with Cannonball Adderly to Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa to Dianne Reeves, to over 40 albums as a solo artist. Simply put, George Duke had a major impact on the landscape of jazz, r&b, funk, pop and classical music.

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Created in 2002, the 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is dedicated to blending the worlds of jazz and classical music through its commissioning, performing and educational programs. Led by Music Director Mitch Glickman, the ensemble has performed throughout Southern California with leading guest artists including Dave Grusin, Christian McBride, Raul Midon, Lee Ritenour, The Yellowjackets, and George Duke.

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The Symphonic Jazz Orchestra/George Duke Commissioning Prize is made possible in part by a grant from The ASCAP Foundation Louis Armstrong Fund and the Bart Howard Fund.

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For eligibility and details how to apply for the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra/George Duke Commissioning Prize, please visit www.SJOmusic.org or call 310-876-8130.

Los Angeles – George Duke was a musical innovator, creator, and mentor to so many. His legacy as a recording artist is vast, from Cannonball Adderly to Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Zappa to Dianne Reeves, to over 40 recordings as a solo artist. Simply put, George forever changed the landscape of jazz, r&b, funk, pop and classical music.

George-Duke-with-SJO-1-1024x558For over nine years, George Duke served as co-music director of the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.  During his tenure, George appeared in numerous concerts and benefits as a soloist with the SJO, and in 2011 was commissioned to compose a new concerto for bass soloistChristian McBride and the 67-member SJO.

 

To honor the memory of George Duke, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is launching the much anticipated “George Duke Legacy Project.”  This project encompasses thespirit of “Playing It Forward,” by celebrating George’s music and creating new musical opportunities for the next generation.  To that end, funds raised for the George Duke Legacy Project will make the recording of his tour-de-force “Bass Concerto” a reality.

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For information about the exciting benefits of being part of this project, please visit our George Duke Legacy Project website by clicking here  or call 310-876-8130.

 

You can be a part of George Duke’s Legacy and “Play it Forward!”

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About the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra

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Created in 2002, the 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is uniquely dedicated to:

 

  • Commission and perform symphonic jazz compositions, a musical genre that blends the American language of jazz with European orchestral traditions.
  • Educate and inspire the next generation of listeners through its Music in the Schools residencies, Community Outreach Program, and free student and community concerts.

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Over the course of its 13-year history, the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO), lead by music Director Mitch Glickman, has commissioned and premiered 16 new works featuring such leading jazz artists as George Duke, Peter Erskine, Dave Grusin, Christian McBride, Raul Midon, Lee Ritenour, and The Yellowjackets. Through its Music in the Schools program, the SJO has served over 40,000 young people and their families across Southern California.

 

Win a FREE Yamaha PR7 Digital Recorder  

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We are in the final countdown to the official launch on Sept. 28th. That’s when the IndieGogo campaign for The George Duke Legacy Project goes live and you can become involved at various levels and benefits.  In the interim, The Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is  presenting a sweepstakes to ‘start the buzz’ on the campaign by giving away a Yamaha digital recorder.

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Click the picture above to enter and win  this awesome digital recorder and be an integral part of funding the recording of The George Duke Legacy Project !

George and ChristianFor over eight years, George Duke served as co-music director of the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra. During his tenure, George appeared in numerous concerts and benefits as soloist with the SJO, and in 2011 composed a new concerto for bass soloist Christian McBride and the SJO.

The project will raise funds through an Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign for the:

  • Recording of George Duke’s “Bass Concerto” for Christian McBride & the 67-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra
  • Creation of the ASCAP/George Duke Commissioning Competition
  • SJO’s ongoing “Music in the Schools” residency programs in underserved communities throughout Southern California

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LeRoy Downs “The Jazzcat” May 2nd & 9th shows on 89.9 KCRW.com

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Hello All!

Hope you had a chance to listen to the show, it was really a beautiful 3 hours. I was only able to capture 2 hoursof super fantastic music on 89.9 FM KCRW.com, but please click and enjoy!!

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Click on 1st Logo for May 2nd show, 2nd logo for May 9th show 3 Hours each!!!

As usual I have scoured my record collection and have selected way too many cd’s to carry into the studio but, they will for sure help me in carving out the most delectable sound experience for you!

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Ticket Give-A-Way

Admission Tickets

Some real nice surprises for you and invitations to some upcoming performances I know you will dig! So, wherever you are in the world, Paris, Peru, Iraq, Iran, Cape Town, Brazil, London, Italy, Cuba, San Juan, Japan, China, Russia, Bolivia, please check the time zone and tune in!

May 2, 2015

Saturday Morning

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3AM to 6am Pacific Standard Time

3 Hours of Progressive, Eclectic Jazz for you dome!

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The Light is ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Happy International Jazz Day! Check out the 2 hour Re-Broadcast from Paris!!

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Sounds and Colors Interview with Kamasi Washington “The EPIC”

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Click and Enjoy Los Angeles Saxophonist Kamasi Washington as he talks about the new release “The EPIC” hitting the stores next week! Don’t miss the stunning performance on Monday May 4th at The Regent Theater in Downtown Los Angeles!

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The Epic is a 172-minute, three-record set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly ten-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet

Masi Patrick

 

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Featuring: The Next Step
Kamasi Washington (Saxophone)
Ryan Porter (Trombone)
Dontae Winslow (Trumpet)
Patrice Quinn (Vocal)
Cameron Graves (Piano)
Brandon Coleman (Keyborads) Miles Mosley (Upright Bass) Stephen Bruner (Electric Bass) Tony Austin (Drums) Ronald Bruner (Drums) Leon Mobely (Percussion)

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W/ Special Guests:
Battlecat, Dwight Tribble, Rickey Washington, Terrace Martin and more TBA.

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String and Choir Conductor: Miguel Atwood-Ferguson

String Section:
Paul Cartwright (Violin)
Tylana Renga (Violin)
Jim Simone (Violin)
Molly Rogers (Viola)
Andrea Witt (Viola)
Ginger Murphy (Cello)
Atryom Manukyan (Cello)

Choir:
Charles Jones
Dawn Norsleet
Mashica Winslow
Nia Andrews
Steven Wayne
Taylor Graves
Thalma de Freitas

DJ Sets by:

Daddy Kev
Daddy Kev (Low End Theory), more TBA

21+
Doors Open at 8pm
Regent Theatre: 448 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA. 90013

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Click for Directions

Online Tickets and Info: ArtDontSleep.com
$23 Limited Presale Tickets

 

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The 2015 Cape Town Jazz Festival and the Wonders of South Africa!

IMG_7147Oh Africa, the land that I love. So much to experience, the people, their conversations, tiny streets, little cafes, open air markets, the natural wonders of the city and the music!!

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The world is so vast, spins so quickly and experience is the only avenue by which seekers of truth come to have that knowledge. It is the gateway to touch, feel and determine for oneself that which is real, true and beautiful. Africa, like jazz and many other things in this world have an image, a perception that most people think is the summation of the mere utterance of the word. It is only with time, study, openness, love and understanding, that things in life can be appreciated many times over, and along its linear existence, new and uncharted discoveries become the new black!

Capetown Jazz LogoSouth Africa has such beauty. The people, the music, the food, are part and parcel of a land striving to do its best to open its doors and welcome you to come and discover the many facets of its culture and escape the one word, “point in time” reference summation. For the last sixteen years, Cape Town has put on its annual Cape Town Jazz Festival, an event that brings in artists from all over the world to perform and share their culture, creativity, poetic lyrics, distinguished sound and to spread the joy of music to the people of South Africa and beyond. It attracts audiences from neighboring countries as well as world travelers to touch down and “experience”, understand and gain some knowledge from the southern part of Africa and all it has to offer.

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We arrived at the Pepper Club Hotel Luxury Hotel, winner in 2013, 2014 and nominee in 2015 of the World Traveler Awards. (After being in the air for an entire day, lounging in a luxury hotel meets your desire and sleeping in a cozy bed is just what is on the menu). But, you are in Cape Town and the city is calling for you to come, seek and discover all that awaits. So after dropping the bags, we are off to explore other adventures in the country. First stop is a visit to one of the best preserved farm yards and wineries in Cape Ducth tradition, Babylonstoren.

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Here amongst the vast picturesque gardens and looming iconic Table Mountain, you will find a well preserved farm house with a great selection of breads, cheese and exotic vegetables while serving the finest Chardonnay, Shiraz and Chenin Blanc you can imagine. The Viognier is my personal favorite!

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This is a place where you can wonder around and see the wildlife, sample the finest stock in the Babylonstoren collection, take a walk through the gardens, have lunch at the Greenhouse restaurant, visit the spa, whatever you like. We spent some time at the winery with our friend, wine and marketing director Anelle van Tonder. She talked about Babylonstoren’s history and the way much of the wine has been aged in oak barrels for very specific amounts of time.

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This creates its richness and produces some of the fine blends from the conditioned grapes which are grown and harvested at the perfect time for the ultimate flavor.

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This years Jazz Festival was held at the Cape Town International Convention Center located in the downtown area of the city. On March 26th, Cape Town presented a stunning pre-festival Gala entitled “Fashion and All That Jazz”, which was the big gala to kick off the festival. The event was sponsored by Cape Town Fashion Festival, Wear South Africa and the 16th Annual Cape Town Jazz Festival. The interesting blend of fashion, art, culture and music carried a message that made “cents” well beyond the dazzle of an extravagant night in the Cape. Yes, we saw many fashions by South African designers and enjoyed the stunning models on the Cape Town catwalk but, in the midst of all the fun and fashion was a uniting message to the people and a theme not only for that night, but one for the country to embrace as a whole. “Wear South African, Wear it Local”.

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A simple statement indeed, but with an impact that can mean jobs and a better economy. Ebrahim Patel, the Honourable Minister of Economic Development spoke about how jazz and fashion have made great partners and can be the sweetener for changing lives in South Africa. The “South African Clothing Trade Union”, SACTU, the people of Cape Town, the country and the world to buy and “Wear South African” is supporting the textile industry, the designers, distribution, factory workers, and creating jobs to stimulate the economy.  Jazz and Fashion coming together creatively with solutions to improve economic conditions leading to a healthier and happier South Africa.

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And of course there was wine, good food and great entertainment! Each designer was showcased with a two minute filmed documentary followed by models displaying their fashions. Zoe Modiga, who is currently attending her third year at Cape Town’s South Africa College of Music may in one sense be a student, but in another put on an uncompromising show of strength, delivering the showmanship of a veteran singer. Also known as a guitarist, her smooth blend of soul, influenced by jazz, Hugh Masekela and other artists guides her as she delights with the confidence, grace, style and a spotlight of the South African future of the music.

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The next morning we took a trip up to Table Mountain, the most ominous and stunning thing you see first and foremost upon your arrival to Cape Town. Table Mountain, one of the new seven wonders of the world and the most iconic sight in all of South Africa. There it is in all of its glory, a 2 mile stretch of mountain, almost 11oo meters above sea level, the flagship flat top of the country standing tall amongst the city. It stands alone in its beauty and whether the sky is cloudy or clear, it is an amazing sight to see.

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We visited a scenic plateau of the mountain and spent some time gazing down to the awesome views of the entire city. This is one of the country’s spots for tourism and it features a skycar called, “The Cableway” where you can ride down and enjoy the city scapes or other activities which include hiking, mountain biking or rock climbing. Weather conditions need to be ideal for scenic trips down the mountain. If the conditions are too windy or cloudy, for safety reasons the attraction will close until the pristine conditions prevail.

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Just down the way from the top of Table Mountain is Camps Bay, one of Africa’s and the world’s most gorgeous places to put your feet in the white sand and play in the clear waters. Everyday is a holiday on this beautiful beach where you enjoy the clear turquoise to the deep blues, the beach at Camps Bay is definitely the place to lounge, bathe in the sun and get back to yourself.  We ate at the Paranga Restaurant serving the best in seafood, sushi, salads and fine meats. Paranga provides the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a fine meal as you gaze into the sparkling ocean!

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Now we are off. The power and energy of the festival is here and once the doors of the convention center opened, South Africa poured in. There were several stages set up for the weekend. Kippies was one of the larger indoor venues that got its name from a famous Johannesburg South African born jazz musician named Kippie Moeketsi, a gentleman who rose to fame in a band called the “Jazz Epistles” and who later went on to claimed that he was responsible for teaching Abdullah Ibrahim everything he knew about piano!

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Zoe Modiga was back for Friday, the starting night of the festival, located at the same stage where the fashion show has now transformed into a room ready to capture her exhilarating sounds once again. From smashing energy to luscious ballads, Zoe continued to blend groove and soul into the fine hues of her soulful delivery. Smooth and captivating, her gentle power caresses with care and the audience feels her love.

From the mighty beaches of Zululand emerges the native born musician Madala Kunene!IMG_7176Known as the “King of Zulu Guitar”, Madala addresses his audience in his native tongue with a soft spoken manner. Hey strums the strings of his guitar and like the rings of a tree, you can feel the wisdom of his gentle soul. He jokes as he says that “somebody stole his instrument” from the stage. When they do bring his other guitar out to him, you hear the twangy sounds of rhythm while Mduduzi Sydney Magwaza creates these low resonating African sounds on his saxophone. The music resonates directly from the heart of Africa and those of us who don’t speak the language feel the vibration and the essence of the lineage as Madala chants, plays and lets the music unveil his stories.

P1080122Then, there was Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Her name implies that she too was raised in the homeland of South Africa, Johannesburg  to be exact in a township called Dobsonville. She sings songs of peace and freedom in the tradition of Africa with an 80’s disco soul twist. She gets the crowd pumped up with her versions of classic Bob Marley compositions like “No Woman, No Cry” and “Don’t Worry Bout a Thing”. She has the entire audience participating and singing along with her and her backup singers. The message of her songs are filled with positiveness and emphasis and uplifting love for people and the entire continent of Africa. A lifting spirit with happiness dancing all around in her rhythm.

P1080128Youth and the future of the music is in good hands when you see young artist performing in major festivals. Tonight on stage, The Cape Town Jazz Festival presents the Heathfield High School Jazz Band. Getting lots of praise from one of South Africa’s local radio announcers, the Heathfield High students together and individually shine as some of their talents are spotlighted in this performance. Under the direction of their conductor Lynn Hannibal, the band has been a part of the festival since 2007 and this group in particular has been tightening up their sound for the last two years. Tonight is certainly evidence of that as they once again warm the hearts of South Africa with their youth, vitality and incredibly moving sound!

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The Bassline Stage is where you will find all of the music that sparks the new generation. Whether Rap, Soul or R&B Funk, it will be music that makes you move and delivered in a youthful vitality and an energy that represents the cutting edge of what’s happening in the music! Jitvinger is and MC and poet who collaborates with Arsenic forming the group “Jitsenic”. Rap and Jazz are two forms of music that could not be farther apart and closer together at the same time. Traditional jazz enthusiast may say that there is no comparison but, when you look at many of our stars of the music in this generation, their musical experiences and heroes are very different. They grew up in the Hip-Hop generation and this vibration is woven into the fabric of their lives. In South Africa, America’s Hip-Hop culture is revered and is a legitimate platform to launch new careers and intertwine the strong beats with the poetic experience of South Africa.

Flowin’ with Afrikaans rap and groove, the speaker stacks are pumping the volumes of bass into the crowd. The strong pulse beats our bodies like a drum while Jitsvinger grooves on guitar and rapping as we bob our heads and let our bodies sway. This is his first performance here at the Cape Town Jazz Festival and he is honored. He closes with an original called “Extra Celestial” and the screams from the crowd are generous!

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What would a jazz festival be without including some of our brilliant musicians that are teetering on the pinnacle of the past while foraging on uncharted planes of sonic dimensions. Gerald Clayton and his trio here in Cape Town making the music dance through simple complexities that cognitively challenge and resolve in the sweetest of fashions. Deep at the core where melody, thought, freedom, love and tenderness meet the swing, is where you will find an insatiable vibration of truth. Hatched in the swing and out of the shell with an 8 foot wing span soars America’s beautiful soul, Gerald Clayton.

IMG_7218Together with Joe Sanders on Bass and Obed Calvaire on drums, the super trio spread a delicious trilogy of sensitivity, warmth and appreciation for the real in the music; giving Cape Town a taste original composition with delicate complexities to intrigue the palates of those who search beyond the standard deviation. Convention takes a back seat as the unveil new pieces from the soon to be released new album “Forest” such as “Under Madhatter Medicinal Groupon, which is a play on “Stray”, “ The Deep Dry Ocean” and “Dusk Baby”. Plants and flowers are blooming as the earth of the mother welcomes her sons home for the first time.

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I for one love when jazz collides with the unconventional instruments of different cultures. It really sparks the move towards one love and one vibration, thought and a universal language of love by all and for all, free from the four walls of distinction which no musician wishes to be placed. Purbayan Chatterjee and Talvin Singh stir the flavors of India in their duo collaboration of Sitar and Tablas. A distinct sound that represents another motherland displaying the chords and rhythms synonymous with healing and a spiritual nature. Vibrations that reach inside, helping your explore and investigate the many sides of oneself in search of inner peace which blossoms out into the world as love through the music. IMG_7276Seated in a crossed leg position, a lifetime achievement in and of itself, the two articulate a trancelike state, pulling everyone deep inside towards a meditation state all while displaying improvised velocities on their respective instruments. This inner peace allows your body to be calm and actually hear the distinctive solo sitar and tabla runs and lets you elaborate in your imagination free from fear of not knowing and abundantly full openness and possibilities. The result is a journey in sound and the discovery the uncharted within; a move towards self actualization through music.

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Melanie Scholtz, the stunning beauty cum laude operatic princess from Cape Town, took those skills and transformed them into a sound that blends soul, hip-hop and a splash of jazz with a touch of Jamaican groove. Adored by her audience, Melanie comes from a background of strong female role models and she and makes sure to address that by composing songs in their honor. Dressed as a modern day super hero of song, the soul of her music has the crowd in all smiles as they relish the lyrics and rock to the groove. What is obvious is the strong influence of her grandmother who is with her in spirit and a guiding force behind the confident energy that Melanie conveys. “We’ll Meet Again” is a tune composed in her honor that flows with an uplifting pulse with no sadness, only overwhelming rays of positive light! Another tune, “Ticky Tock” represents the meaning of time in the sense of how little we have together on this planet so we might as well enjoy the best of each other.P1080199

Ms Scholtz has also made the confession of her love for green tea! She has an addiction and affliction for the herbal sensation, promising her mom that it was not a mantra to the other green substance. Her ten cup a day fix has led her to compose “Sun Green”, all about her love relationship with the potent antioxidant! Her band of musicians and singers are also on hit as her generosity for their talent shows when she gives them the spotlight to shine!. Her special guest this evening performed earlier on the hip-hop spoken word stage and he lends his talent of spoken poetics to the set. Jitsvinger, injects his flows right into the groove, as he showers the audience with South African love, and romantic poetic justice for his princess!

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Before my excursion here to Cape Town, I spoke back home with great jazz legend and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. He told me I should reach out to Rene McLean because he knew that Rene was living here in South Africa. Well, I did not have the opportunity to connect with Rene but it was such a pleasure being able to hears another descendant of the Jackie Mac tribe, Naima McLean. It is so special to see how the music passes down through the generations and how the different social and environmental influences change and are regurgitated so differently in each stage of the music. New directions of the same cell forming and entirely new concepts in the lineage of sound.P1080165

Naima, to those who love jazz, lament with the every vibrating sound of the 1959 composition by the great saxophone master John Coltrane. However, the Naima in this case is entirely different. She calls her music Urban Soul and in her authenticity, her stories describe life, hers as well as that of the people humanized in such a way that everyone can understand these true feelings through the music. Her music emotes from the passionate nature of a woman to the political and social energy of her people and country. She is a poet, leading star actress and has been a spokesperson/social activist touring the world and speaking on serious social issues. Born in New York but raised in South Africa, Naima’s music reflects that of a soul pop culture rockin’ rap and poetry expressing ways to for the oppressed to crush dispair to rise to the top!

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When your hair grows into long dreds, some would say that your are a, “Grandfather” reflecting the spirit, dedication wisdom it takes to live your life outside the conformity of society, carving out your own paths and demanding that others respect you for your contribution. In many ways music faces some of the same challenges. Courtney Pine takes the stage and says that he as been waiting a long, long, long, long time to play at the Cape Town Jazz Festival and now is here! The British born prolific multi reed saxophonist has a style that mixes the music of jazz and reggae with a Eurafrican twist. One thing that is for sure, jazz is the prominent base for Courtney and his Jamaican roots come through in the groove. He likes to have good time when performing and make sure that his audience is on the same cloud as he displays some phenomenal licks on his soprano. Here in Cape Town with an outstanding ensemble, Courtney breaks loose on some of those other instruments including the clarinet going from fun and groovy to digging in deep with a voracious display of high tempo ingenuity!

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In the afternoon its off to do some some shopping but this morning, I took a leisurely stroll  around the city and just got lost in the everyday culture of Cape Town. I came across Green Market Square where there were many out selling their wares, art and jewelry. Walking around for exercise and to get a real feel for the streets, the parks, the people and take in a fresh breath of Cape Town.

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Now we are off to shopping at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, a suburb located less than a mile east of centre city.  IMG_7916The Mill sits right in the middle of of the artistic architectural neighborhood offering music, a farmers market and a place to purchase art, clothing or gifts for your special one. I was able to find this lovely necklace to bring back to the my lovely girl. Oh yes, the necklace looks great as well! You will find some extraordinary food her at the Old Biscuit Mill and it is one of the most happening places to go and hang especially on Saturdays. The face of Woodstock has changed for the better over the last couple decades and  many people come from all over Cape Town to enjoy this area as part of their weekend enjoyment.

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The second night of the festival was pretty special as well. I started out with the Claude Couzen Trio. If there is ever a drummer that you want to use in South Africa, this is the cat. His trio of Kyle Shepherd on piano/synthesisers and bassist Benjamin Jephta sonically deliver on a open line of mellow communication capturing the vibrations of jazz, electric energy, pulsating rhythms whose rock fusion themes mesmerize and move the crowd.IMG_6933 At the Cape Town press conference for the festival, Claude talked about his latest project and what the audience could expect. Claude has played and toured with many other South African bands but, his spirited trio is taking their music to a new South Africa and many young and old alike are grooving to those rich organ sounds mixed with the support of that constant strong heartbeat and solid bass lines. His subtle sensibilities and wandering melodies take flight but also keep you mentally locked in to to a pocket. Benjamin Jeptha is so smooth, he makes his electric bass sound like and upright acoustic. Couzen’s latest release called “Jubilee Jam” features tunes like “Brother Boesack” and “Electric Street” which are guaranteed to to deliver that constant funk groove!

P1080287The City is a group of Indie rockers whose lead singer Bonj Mpanza puts all of her energy into her performance. With command of such a powerful voice that fills the Bassline stage, she leads her band of rock fused rhythm cronies as they come together to produce a blended sound that touches on multi platforms. African-Electro is how they like to describe themselves and they are part and parcel of a new sound for a new generation in Cape Town. They represent the pulse of what is happening now in, “The City”. Each deriving from a blend of different genres, they came together and formed their band as a collective and use the influences from their former bands to produce a new vibration that can globally connect to people in every city. A mashup of Reggae, Gospel, R&B, Electro with that Cape Town soul fuels the passion and energy for this band. Newly up and coming stars that would love for you to experience the bright shining sounds of their their creation!

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Well they say she is shy but, I have a feeling she is long over that. With the power of a dynamic band, Naima Kay’s presence is loved by South Africa. Soul and groove with a strong bass line, (the power is all she hers) as fans sing along with her every word. Last year she was voted “Best New Artist” and now she is back in the house representing the city of Durban in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, commonly referred to as Zululand. She teaches the audience the chorus of a new song so they all can live, love and sing together with their favorite girl! Her lovely smile, upbeat nature and connection with the divine one lends to a style and rhythm that incorporates life, lessons in love and an encompassing groove that captures her unique sound and spirit. P1080354

I can tell you about someone who is not the least bit shy. In fact, she has this infallible power to put the biggest smile on your face. Dee Dee Bridgewater is the bomb! P1080332With her command of one of the most beautiful voices in jazz, she turns music, song and story into the show of the century every time. Here with one of New Orlean’s, “finest” trumpeters, (and with Dee Dee every word is a triple entendre), Irvin Mayfield knows how to keep the music strong and hold it all together, even under welcomed duress. The coercion is the cohesion just like the music is the magic and when backed up by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, its a guaranteed good time!

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The Pacific Express, a band from the flats of Cape Town are a straight up jazz fusion with their long tone solos, heavy groove and a bass that is super funky; they also play their share of ballads as well. Popular around the Cape town area for being, in a way, the Art Blakey band of Cape Town, schooling younger players in the music and enlisting them in the band to create a new sound. They are a test to the fact that music is their main ingredient, and color takes a second seat to sound. They played their popular hit, “Black Fire” which they said, “ is about the soul inside the black man”. Black, white or coloured are all the same when it comes to making music with this multi-raced band. Controversial back in the day but today, as in the days of old, it’s all about the music.

P1080380Carlos Mobelli and the Storytellers band has lots of electronics mixed in the sound and a cellist Daniel Pezzotti that is out of sight! Each band member hails from different parts of the earth and over the years, Carlos has played with all of them in different and interesting configurations. Back in Joburg some years back, Carlos ran a jam session three nights a week at a club in Newtown called, “The Baseline”. It was a place where all musicians were invited and encouraged to come and shed. He mentioned a story about this one singer who kept showing up and wanting to scat every night. That was Mbuso Khoza who is wailin’ tonight as his voice lifts up and fills the room, encompassing all in the warmth of his gentle African nature.

P1080381Carlos can throw down on some harmonics as his mystic bass lines run transcendent, aquatic, heavenly magic, almost as if he was conducting a seance calling not the dead, but summoning our spirits to come together. The soft touch and gentle nature of his being silences the soul and lets the music speak directly to the hearts of man, and woman of course! He wrote a song for one of his favorite players Paul Motion called “The Explorers”, which he recorded on the “Stories” album. He also composed a tune for his wife Sandra, “Song for Sandra”, who was right down in front exchanging love with her man as he blessed us with her song.

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You cannot say the words “South Africa” and “Jazz” without mentioning the Great trumpeter Hugh Masekela. IMG_7461So historically significant when you think about his playing and barrier breaking collaborations with other American and European artists around the world. His music spoke for the people and tonight, to the people as they raised the roof. The Kippies stage is almost at capacity as Hugh fills the crowd with energetic emotion. He has paved the way for many other South African musicians to travel the world and tell their stories of the country through song, bringing us all closer together through music!

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I know South Africa is ready for this beautiful America sound, trumpet master Wallace Roney! Old school meets new school in this band that gets its energy, experience, youth and vitality from the four corners of the sphere; an infinite transference of cyclical power!

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It is so amazing when you can actually watch someone turn into brilliance. I have watched pianist Victor Gould for a long time, starting when his father used to bring him to performances at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles. His eyes and ears were wide open then and to watch all of the music that has gone into his soul now transformed into new school vibrations, gives us all assurance that jazz for now and in the future is on lock! Wallace’s sax player Ben Solomon is wise beyond his years, an apprentice yes, but smart and gracious enough to endure Miles-like conditions developing his strength, character and overall sound. He closes his eyes and blows past and present, pulling through the ether the wisdom of the past.

P1080398P1080391Wallace Roney, as you know is a world class sensation. Warm hearted, but serious about the music and the sound, his intensity is evident in the pristine temper of past and present interpretations of classic nostalgia; emanating a sound we love and hold near while delivering a fierce present day resonation. These vibrations keep us on the virtual edge of a cliff and dancing on a tightrope of parallel realities.
The band tonight features to of America’s finest players; the great creative bassist Buster Williams and one of the cats who changed the music with his style of drumming, Lennie White.

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Sunday is here and is there more to see in the city! Yes, of course we certainly have been exploring the beauty of the city but, what about the townships and the local people of Cape Town. Well, the township of Gugulethu located off of Steve Biko Drive formerly and sometimes still known as NY1, (NY stands for Naval Yard). Steve Biko, as many of you know, was an activist who fought against the laws of apartheid in South Africa during the 60’s and was one of the leaders uniting Black Consciousness towards human equality. He is also well known for the powerful statement, “Black is Beautiful”, a phase still commonly used around the world today. 


“Black is Beautiful” and in the township of Gugulethu, that is primarily what you see.  Located about 15 km from the city, this township is where everyone comes together on Sunday dressed in their best and ready to impress. Look around and there are people everywhere! In decades past, all you would see was only people from the township but, in these more modern times, the colors are starting to mix and locals on every level frequent these parts to partake, learn and bond with their African brothers. These folks want to look and feel good! They come to this open market to eat, drink and maybe meet Mary! Many of the roads in the township are dirt roads but, when I looked around, all of  the cars have just been washed, super clean! There is a lot of pride in being your best and moving forward in life. Sunday is a time of joy, a time to relax and to socialize with friends and others in the community spreading kindness, joy love and yes, happiness!

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A beautiful time in Cape Town has come to a close but, more adventures await in Durban South Africa. We head to the airport to take a short flight on Mango Air to what is commonly referred to as Zululand, named after the great warrior and mighty king.  Shaka Zulu was one of the most influential monarchs of the Kingdom! Although a bit heinous in many of his tactics, Shaka was praised for his ingenuity in uniting tribes and rising to prominence to rule the Zulu territory.

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The Hilton Hotel in Durban, a far cry from the days of King Shaka, was quite a nice place to land

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That evening, members of South Africa Tourism and other journalists from Italy, Brazil and I had dinner, literally with the sharks, at the Cargo Hold restaurant in UShaka Marine World before we would set out and discover what modern day Durban had in store for us. IMG_7803The culture in Durban is primarily Zulu African and Indian. The Indian South Africans represent the largest culture outside of India, arriving in South Africa in the late 1900’s. Today finds these South Africans thriving in in quite large numbers and just like other Africans, they struggled during apartheid and are now maintain businesses and political positions and have a solid foothold on culture and society.

IMG_7776The Great Mahatma Gandhi spent over two decades in Durban fighting for the rights of South African indians to vote. Affected by discrimination himself being considered coloured, he had been beaten, refused service at hotels, and even removed from court for not removing his turban which he considered disrespectful in the eyes of God. He became a social activist for his people and unified them into a political force for justice. He adopted plans to non-violently repel unjust laws and though many of the indians suffered grave consequences, it compelled the powers that be to negotiate more civilized terms. After the struggle for many years, blacks and coloured gained the right to vote and Gandhi was proclaimed a national hero.

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Things in Durban are changing but, many cultural beliefs and traditions stay the same.  For instance, “the pharmacy” on the corner as we know takes on a significantly different approach when it come to treating some of our ailments. African remedies are ancient, from a time when, “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning”did not exist, and the only choice was that of an a “Organic” nature. This traditional “pharmacy”, in Berea Musgrave  is connected by bridge to Berea Greyville which is an outdoor market for food, fruits, vegetables and a swap market of sorts selling clothing, gadgets and all kinds of knick knacks! It is best to have a tour guide or a local with you while maneuvering these markets in Greyville. You won’t have to say anything but, from your presence, it will be fairly obvious that, “you ain’t from these parts”!

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This is all very close, across the street actually, from Victoria Market, which is where most tourists do their independent vendor shopping. Your bargaining is more useful here and you will see many items that the world views as, “Africa Art and Jewelry”. My suggestion is open your eyes, learn, respect and have the best of both worlds!

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For lunch, we headed out to Umlazi, a Durban township several kilometers away from the center of the city, to eat at a restaurant called the, “Eyadini Lounge” otherwise referred to as “The Yard”! A local business man who used his own money to invest in this restaurant-lounge and has really made a difference in the community.

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The look and feel of such an establishment in the township not only provides quality service to its customers but, gives hope for the rise of more services and business ventures in the community. Umlazi, is the third largest township in South Africa and like many others, is experiencing government and private investments to help the townships thrive. They are encouraging the locals to invest in business in their own township. This will eventually cause other tourists and local South Africans to come in to make their purchases to put Umlazi on the map!

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Believe me, there is so much to learn, explore, taste and indulge when you insert yourself into a foreign lands. The exchange with the people is an even one, because they are just as mesmerized about you and where you are from. Visit South Africa, share its music, learn its history, break bread with its people; they are your brothers and sisters and the bond makes us one; “Living and jiving and digging the skin were in”!

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LeRoy Downs

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