This year I was more involved with the International Jazz Extravaganza and had the privilege of covering the build up concerts, the arrivals of the international acts, the press conference, and then all the activities related to the main event on the day from the decor to the rehearsals to the actual concert itself held at the Durban ICC.  This years lineup was as follows: Thandi Ntuli, Kurt Elling, Monty Alexander and Nduduzo Makhathini.

There are so many highlights that I cannot mention them all.  One not so obvious highlight was the press conference held at the Waterfront Hotel at Ushaka with Nduduzo, Monty, Thandi, Sindile and a few city officials.  I have witnessed the musicians live in concert and have been blown away by their passion but I never expected to witness that same passion at a press conference.  The humble stories and true meaning of being a jazz musician was expressed in a way that left me with a lump in my throat.  Sindile’s(founder and President of IJE) reasons for creating and organizing this event were admired by all, what a courageous and inspirational person.

When it was announced that Kurt Elling was up next and that he was a vocalist I have to admit that I thought his performance would drag on and be a bit boring(sorry but I am new to jazz).  I was wrong in so many ways.  He was my favourite and I cannot say enough amazing things about him.  His presence on stage is entertaining and powerful.  His voice is like no other and I cannot believe that someone can pronounce their words so clearly whilst singing and have such a command over all the high and low notes.  I had to keep reminding myself to take photos as I must have looked like a deer in the headlights.  Kurt, thank you I am now still on cloud 9 after that performance.

Something that you soon realize about jazz bands is that each member is a phenomenal musician on their own and once you witness one of their solos you are in awe of each member.  I am not sure how much jazz bands rehearse but I got the feeling that once they are on stage they just let go and let the music take over.  Everything is spontaneous and at a drop of a hat someone will erupt into a solo performance and have the crowds cheering for more.  This was most evident in Monty Alexander’s performance and it was amazing to see just how smoothly the music flowed and how the band gelled together throughout their performance.

Ntandi Thuli and Nduduzo Makhahtini were the local artists and did not disappoint and were probably the most passionate performers in my eyes.

The only disappointment of the evening was the time that the concert finished, 3am.  It was way too late and a lot of people had left.  I was over tired from doing hundreds of laps around the ICC so even the mighty Nduduzo with a soul moving performance had me yawning, sorry man.

Next year’s concert is going to be even better so for anyone out their who missed out on walking away from an event feeling like they were a new person ready to conquer the world I suggest you keep an eye out for this inspirational evening.  Well done to the IJE team and to all of the musicians for putting your hearts and souls into the event of the year.  For more corporate events covered by OD Media go to here

The beautiful Durban ICC with all the performing artists on display

I was shocked when I walked in on the Friday to see the hall empty. The show was taking place the next day and there wasn’t even a stage or seating. Unfortunately the ICC had something on the day before so Gearhouse could only start setting up the day before. They had to do what usually takes 2 days, in one. What a performance in itself. This gives you an idea of what actually goes on before you see the pretty lights and the amazing show.

Chalk and cheese. What a mammoth task setting up the entire hall.

One of Thani Ntuli’s band members rehearsing before the show.

Thandi Ntuli running over a few songs before the show started.

Monty Alexander doing an interview after his rehearsal. He has more energy than anyone. What a gracious performer.

I stood watching this gentleman for a long time as he tuned the piano. He just touched a key and knew how much adjusting to do. Blew my mind, what a skill.

The hospitality suites looked beautiful and were full of guests enjoying the intervals and no doubt chatting about each performance.

Monty once again giving of his time.

Yummy food heading out to the hospitality suites.

Two heroes from the evening, Kurt Elling and Sindile Xulu. Take a bow.

No, there is nobody else in the hall so take your time and don’t worry about being in the way of any guests. Just make sure that you get the footage that is the important part. One can easily get distracted and forget that there are guests trying to enjoy the show so one has to be discreet and create as little disturbance as possible.

Kurt delivering an amazing performance.

Look at that passion and enthusiasm, inspirational stuff.

Kurt’s voice coming down from above

Thandi Ntuli’s amazing band

Thandi Ntuli’s amazing band, I love the lighting here

Thandi Ntuli’s lost in the music, wonderful to see

Thandi Ntuli’s and her amazing band

This image of Kurt Elling is one of my favourite due to the lighting and passion in his face. I was momentarily blinded after this pic but hay it was worth it.

The inspiring Nduduzo Makhathini introducing his band

Monty Alexander introducing his band

Kurt Elling delivering an inspiring performance

Thandi Ntuli’s amazing band

Monty Alexander and his happy band members

Monty Alexander in black and white

This man’s passion is truly a gift

Beautiful lighting for Kurt Elling’s performance

Kurt Elling’s pianist was incredible

The stage and lighting was spectacular

Monty Alexander tinkering away

Nduduzo Makhathini in action

Nduduzo Makhathini in action

Monty Alexander feeling it.

Thandi Ntuli’s amazing band

Man, this guy could drum. He sat upright and hardly moved but boy did he play those drums.

Kurt Elling about to blow minds with his inspiring performance.

Nduduzo Makhathini’s awesome band

Kurt Elling’s guitarist lost in the moment

Monty Alexander, over to you

Nduduzo Makhathini still feeling the passion at 3am in the morning.