Highlights from the Safaricom International Jazz Festival 2017

Nathaniel Adderley, an African American jazz cornet and trumpet player once said that “I have never heard of a jazz musician who retired. You love what you do, so what are you going to do…. play for the walls?’

The recently held 4th Edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival was the embodiment of these words with a huge turn-out by jazz lovers from all over the country.  The event which was hosted by Kavutha Mwanzia-Asiyo, an acclaimed vocal coach on Kasarani grounds -kicked off with an ovation-worthy performance by the main act, David Sanborn.

David Sanborn has 24 albums, 6 Grammy awards and one platinum album tied to his name. He is a celebrated artist having a career spanning 3 and a half decades. His uncanny ability to make  music which goes straight to the heart is what makes him even greater as an artist. His performance at the festival was a clear indication of his prowess as one of the most active musicians of his genre in this century. He had the crowd up on their feet and swaying to his music. He was accompanied by a group of talented instrumentalists during his performance one of them being Ramon Yslas, a percussionist who has worked with artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Christiana Aguilera while on tour. He has also performed on major award shows such as the MTV Video Music Awards and the Latin Grammy Awards.

The festival which was sponsored by Safaricom ensured to provide a serene environment for all those who attended through provision of quality music that was rich in culture, texture and diversity. A great variety of food was available for those who attended as well as various liquor and wine stands courtesy of Jameson Kenya. Other electric performances included Taxi wars, a group from Europe whose video ‘bridges’ was nominated for best video category in the Belgium Music Awards and The Hazelnuts, a female group from Israel consisting of three vocalists (Shira Z. Carmel, Yifeat Ziv and Anat Moshkovski) who performed one of their most recognized hits ‘Walk in Jerusalem’.

Yet another jazz musician, Arun Gosh a British Asian clarinetist blessed the crowd with his renowned modern IndoJazz which is fusion of music he loves. He performed alongside Kenyan band the Nairobi Horns Project. Bokani Dyer also performed. Rema Lema (my favourite) whose performance was like a dream is a composer and accomplished musician. He brought all the amazing feels to the festival alongside the Saka Saka band. The crowd danced vibrantly to their well-blended sounds throughout their segment. Lastly, Mwai and truth, who are Kenyan musicians comprising of a quartet captivated the entire crowd with their rhythmic music. The drummer of the group David, particularly did a wonderful job in ensuring everyone had a good time. The event seemed to have come to a speedy end although we wanted to stay longer and dance more.

What a show! From the amazing lineup of globally and locally acclaimed artists to the wonderful food and drinks provided to the vibrant crowd that was in attendance, Safaricom International Jazz Festival must be one of my favourite events of the year.



Keillah Okari

Keillah Okari

Contributing Writer

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