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.
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