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!!


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!

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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!


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


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.


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”!


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!


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!


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”!


LeRoy Downs

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LeRoy Downs off to cover the 16th Annual Cape Town Jazz Festival

Capetown Jazz LogoThis is where the music brings the world together! On March 27th and 28th, artists from all over the globe descend upon Cape Town South Africa, the pinnacle of beauty surrounded by gorgeous blue water filling the air with the wonderful sounds of jazz music!


My trip will consist of a few days in Cape Town followed by a short trip to Durban to explore the food, the culture and the music! durban_1885091bI will return with an article and I am sure a plethora of great information about our brothers and sisters from the motherland. The endeavor should include a Jazz Safari, a South Africa Cooking Safari, wine tasting, a fashion show, a visit to the top of Table Mountain, peruse through local markets and more!

Jazz music, food and culture is the only way to discover and explore any city or country.

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I look forward to seeing you upon my return!

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Kendrick Scott Oracle’s Final Destination the Blue Whale

The Oracle- The word “oracle” comes from the Latin verb ōrāre “to speak” and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction


Another full house here at the Blue Whale, the best room in Los Angeles for premium quality sound. The benevolent and wise Joon Lee, creator of the club is back in town and the music never wavers.


Kendrick Scott, the peaceful soul behind the melody, leading an all-star cast of cognition.P1080034Out front Walter Smith III with tenor logistics and Mike Moreno whose guitar fills the room with warm waves of echoing vibrations casting a blanket of love on us.

AG, Aaron Goldberg laying down melodic loveliness as the joy in his notes hold up the sound and reach out to caress us. Joe Sanders, whose tone becomes us as we feel the pulse, caressing and playing as he holds the lady close.

Then, there is Kendrick, king rhythm, driving all roads with a suspension meets every bump and curve with a barrage of distinction. There is a force, a casual calm breeze with tenacious readings on the Richter scale but, we are not shaken as we willfully embrace the power of the music.

P1080029Kendrick introduces all of the cats and many he has played with for quite time.

Conviction, the title track of the last album, is about Kendrick addressing himself and asking questions to see if he is living by the standard and mores that are true and in sync with his being. While he searches to find the truth within himself, perhaps we will take that same look at ourselves, the good and the bad and learn from the experience.

They proceed with a Herbie Hancock composition, “I Have a Dream”. For these cats Heroes and legends have turned into peers. The inspiration has grown a new culture that respects, stretches, reaches and uses the environment of today to tell modern day stories while leaving a foot, or at least a few toes in the soil. One thing that any Master will tell you is to speak and be heard by the distinction of your own voice. Music is an art, a search and a journey that can imitate life and transcribe dreams.  A nocturnal spirit connected to notes and prayers.


What I love about the Blue Whale is how the concentration of the audience becomes part of the sound. The silence is so precious and the blessings of sound bestowed upon us are so vast. We are a bundle of energy feeding and feeding off of each other. We are living inside the O of Oracle like an atom; one tiny dot in the Universe whose sound travels through the Galaxy emanating light and love.


There is such a natural and strong bond between the musicians. Friendship and trust are key elements to cohesiveness. Songs are skeletons that are made human every night. They are familiar but never played the same. “Like Water” is a perfect example.
Bruce Lee, Master and lord of the art of Chinese Martial arts says that we should, “be like water my friend”, able to flow and adapt in an every adjusting world. Crash!
Lotus – a tune from the up coming album is sweet and calm as the sun and morning dew produce the elements for life a flower. We listen and imagine life evolving and unfolding before us.

This band is together as a sound. No antics, no drama, no check me out, only the deepest respect and admiration of the beauty of compositions. Bringing them to life through their performance.


Some of this new music will be featured on the next new Oracle album for Blue Note Records. Flying Lotus’, a derivative of Coltrane, composition that features the other Kendrick, Kendrick Lamar was performed by Kendrick Scott who composed this piece from Lamar’s rap. Brother Was, the Blue Note wise one, is reviving the legendary label by signing all of the young brilliance and making sure that when you search for that beacon of sound, the one that draws you near and begs the question ‘Who was That” after hearing the most intriguing vibrations, the epicenter is Blue Note records.


Last set of the tour, the music tonight is on high, titled or untitled, it’s precious. “Milton” is the title of a John Ellis piece, young musicians inspired by young musicians, peers and brothers. Sanders is now is making his instrument weep, tears falling all off of those strings! Aaron’s sense of travel has velocity, while Mike rides on top of the melody. Walter’s tenderness abounds, there are no vocals but the sound sings!
Duke Pearson’s “You know I Care” is a standard but played like an original. Not with new changes and chord structures, but with simplicity, tenderness, respect and ownership.

neo spoonLaden with groove and direction that starts right here and points towards the future. “What the Oracle told you is only for you, Neo”. “Do not try to bend the spoon, that is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth; that there is no spoon”.


Be water my friend!


LeRoy Downs


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The Jazzcat on 89.9FM Sat March 7 @ 3am

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LD Rockin’ the airwaves at 89.9 FM Spinnin’ from 3am to 6am question is, ARE YOU WITH ME! I guarantee you will here some of the most spectacular jazz music programmed seamlessly creating an experience we both will enjoy.

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LA, I know most of you are sleeping but, New York, Paris, Brazil, Copenhagen, Chicago, London, South Africa, let’s do it!


Click KCRW to listen!!!!


P1060079Bo Leibowitz is taking the night to relax and has given me the opportunity to stretch!!! Let’s see where the music takes us!

Listen and Enjoy!

Click here to peep the Playlist!

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LeRoy Downs and Mark Maxwell on Rise 90.7FM KPFK.ORG This Sunday @ Midnight – 3am!!

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Click any picture and Listen Live


Sunday @ Midnight / Monday March 2nd @ 12:00am

Back once again to stretch, share and expand vibrations, positive buoyancy,  encourage, uplift and provoke thought while loving the creators, honoring the masters and blessing those with a thirsty ear for quality sonic experiences. JAZZ MUSIC!!! And to coin a phrase from our President, “Let Me Be Perfectly Clear”, mediocracy, redundancy and popularity are prohibited in exchange for a proclivity of pristine, progressive, organic, quality jazz music!

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It’s always a pleasure to share the airwaves with my man and yours Mark Maxwell. Come and join us as we mix, spin and blend sound experiences. Sunday Night / Monday Morning, the dawn of a new day on 90.7 FM KPFK.ORG


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All Music Television :30 Sec Promo

All Music Television :30 Sec Promo from Morning Music TV on Vimeo.


All Music Television set to launch All New 24/7/365 Digital Music Television Network on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 featuring a series of exclusive, up close, personal and revealing interviews, recorded at the iconic Sonos Studio in Hollywood, Ca. with some of the hottest and brightest young stars in music today, including…

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Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition winners Kris Bowers and, Marquis Hill,Los Angeles’ own super sax man Kamasi Washington and up & coming Northern California rapper Cash L3wis.


Hosted by popular LA jazz radio personality LeRoy Downs and television personality Patricia Cage, All Music Television aims to bring music and musicians back to television. All Music Television is also set to launch a slate of new music programming, including Morning Music TV, Midnight Music TV, Weekend Music TV andBlowing Changes.

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The new shows, music, music videos, live music, festival and concert programming will be available online, 24/7/365 at and in Los Angeles in 5.7 million television homes on KDOC 56 and in 923,290 television homes on KSMO 4 in Kansas City, MO. All Music Television programming will also be available on additional US television stations and International television markets in the Spring and Summer of 2015. Stay connected to All Music Television by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and be sure to visit our website to subscribe and receive weekly programming updates, music news, releases and reviews, concert reviews, free music, exclusive artist interviews, live music and more. All Music Television. Your New Television Home For Music. 24/7/365 Music Television For All.

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All Music Television in 2015!


Hello Everyone,

Here we are at the beginning of a brand New Year with so much beauty ahead of us. Everyone has resolutions, new ideas, new projects, new ways of thinking and being and the real question is, “What are we going to do to contribute” to our planet? Well, All Music Television and Sonos Studios has gotten off to a great start with the first iteration of the All Music Television Network!


Today we conducted interviews with some monsters in the music who are carving out paths of honesty, beauty and grace with their music and their accomplishments. Sonos Studio is onboard with the concept for a new television network. 2014 Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition winner Marquis Hill, pianist Kris Bowers and rapper Cash L3wis all came by the studio to share their knowledge,wisdom and stories about the music.


Right off a direct flight from Philly and straight to the studio, Los Angeles’ very own Kamasi Washington joined host LeRoy Downs to talk about the new album, playing on the road with Chaka Khan and Harvey Mason and the life of a creative musician!

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The brainchild of television producer Fredrick Smith is to create a television network where people can come and experience all kinds of music.


Not one that repeats and concentrates on the same popular music that you always hear, but one where young people are speaking, creating, singing and playing music that moves a new generation!


Patricia Cage is the other host and she spent some great time getting to know Kris Bowers and the impetus behind the the multifaceted pianist.  Coming soon to a television near you! All Music Television! We will keep you posted!!!


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Jazzin’ in the Key of Sea!

Jazzin’ in the Key of Sea™ is the first in a series of multi-media programs that will open the worlds of Jazz, Classical, and great American music to children in an educational and entertaining way. The heart of this multimedia program is a series of animated stories, which teach students in fairly broad age range about Jazz, its history and its legendary performers.

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Make Music LA Holiday Flash Mob Concert at City National Plaza 2014!

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Calling out to all Musicians! Holiday Flash Mob in Downtown LA!!!!!!

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The holiday season is in full swing in Los Angeles and this year LeRoy Downs, the quintessential on-air radio personality and creator and producer of, and president of Make Music Los Angeles will be celebrating a new tradition by producing a Holiday Flash Mob/concert on Dec. 18, 2014 at City National Bank Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, CA. The concert begins at 5:00 p.m. City National Plaza is located at 515 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA.

LeRoy Downs to produce ‘Make Music Los Angeles Holiday Flash Mob’ concert “There is no greater joy than the sights and sounds of the holiday season,” says Mr. Downs, “Earlier this year for International Jazz Day, MMLA participated in a Jazz Flash Mob at Union Station with The Jazz Education Network and Beyond the Bell, Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and later were asked by City National Plaza to help organize one for the Holidays! City National Plaza is also filming the event as a documentary, so this is truly a special occasion for musicians who are interested in furthering the mission of MMLA.”


Now in its third year, Make Music LA invited Beyond the Bell, Branch of Los Angeles Unified School District and The Jazz Education Network to partner once again to coordinate this special musical event for City National Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles. MMLA is calling out to all local musicians who are students, professionals and amateurs along with singers, choirs, groups and individuals to perform Holiday music. The event is open to artists of all ages, all levels of ability, and primarily wind instruments to join in this celebration. Come down to enjoy the fun, however to participate you must register at to download the music.


Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.32.03 AMTony White, this year’s Musical Director, will lead the musicians who will perform the songs in the spirit of a jam session. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “This Christmas,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” are the scheduled songs to be performed. White is a professional jazz musician, musical director, teacher, and philanthropist whose mastery of the tenor soprano and alto saxophone voices makes him the perfect headliner as well as the perfect mentor.

dorsay-founderDorsay Dujon, the founder of Make Music LA, started Make Music LA mainly because of the need to educate our children. “Music gives kids a sense of purpose. It gives them a sense of well-being and connectedness as they’re working in groups. But more than anything it helps them with everything else they’re going to do. It helps them with mathematics; it helps their cognitive skills, and boosts self-esteem,” says Ms. Dujon. MMLA is based on France’s Fête de la Musique, a national musical holiday inaugurated in 1982. The festival has become an international phenomenon celebrated on the same day in more than 800 cities in 110 countries, including Germany, Italy, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Australia, Vietnam, Congo, Cameroon, Fiji, Colombia, Chile, Nepal, and Japan.


For more information, please visit the Make Music LA Holiday Flash Mob website.

Paula Edelestein

Written by Paula Edelestein

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