For the past five years lovers of jazz music in Kenya have had something to celebrate about through Safaricom.
The telecommunications will this weekend be celebrating five years since they introduced Safaricom International Jazz Festival.
The festival has seen them bring the very best of local and international jazz music, delivering electric performances and getting you moving to everything from the legendary late Hugh Masekela’s signature sounds to the funky beat of the Nairobi Horns Project.
This year you can expect nothing less as they celebrate the 5th edition of the international festival with yet another line-up of brilliant performers from USA, Israel, Belgium, Germany, South Africa and Kenya.
AMERICAN JAZZ GROUP
Highly acclaimed American jazz trio BWB will headline the festival at the Kasarani Training Grounds on February 25.
The group comprises guitarist Norman Brown, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and trumpeter Rick Braun.
While this will be Braun’s maiden visit to Kenya, Whalum and Brown are no strangers to the jazz festival, having performed alongside Gerald Albright and Sheléa Frazier at the Safaricom Jazz Lounges in Nairobi and Mombasa in December 2016.
“This edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival has a special place in our hearts for many reasons. Not only are we celebrating five years of great live jazz performances from world renown and locally admired musicians, we are also celebrating the social impact we’ve created through funds raised from the Festival,” said Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO.
MAKE JAZZ ACCESIBLE
“The whole idea of the festival is to make jazz music more accessible and inclusive, and to use this to break down barriers and create opportunities for talented Kenyan artistes to play alongside international stars and appeal to a larger local audience,” added Collymore who is the brains behind the festival.
BWB is expected to perform a wide selection from its massively popular Human Nature album.
Safaricom has donated over Sh37 million from proceeds of the jazz festival since it was first held in February 2014, enabling the Art of Music Foundation to scale up its Ghetto Classics programme and expand it to Mombasa, with plans to branch out to Kisumu next year.
Ghetto Classics is a community-based programme that aims to transform the lives of over 650 children in Korogocho, Huruma, Dandora and Mukuru kwa Reuben, as well as students from Farasi Lane Primary School and Muthangari Primary School in Nairobi.
The programme uses music education to provide the youth with opportunities to better themselves and their communities, equipping them with skills in live music performance as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty that many of them are born into.
The programme also provides them with income generating opportunities and has been supported by proceeds from the Safaricom International Jazz Festival since 2014.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the program is 22 year-old Brian Kepher who is considered to be one of the youngest conductors of classic music.
In a recent interview with Daily Nation, Kepher said if it was not for the sound of music he heard while visiting his mother’s kiosk who used to sell vegetables just opposite St John's Korogocho Community were Ghetto Classics are located he has no idea where his life will be now.
“I told her about the KDF band, she told me to go and listen to the children who were inside practicing. After a few months I joined the Ghetto Classics. When I walked in the first instrument I picked up was the bass drum,” he said.
Kepher, is one of the conductors of the Ghetto Classics Orchestra. He once used to sleep on the floor of a local church because there wasn’t enough room in his family’s home in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum. His love of music has seen him perform with Ghetto Classics for President Uhuru Kenyatta and Pope Francis when he visited Kenya.
The first edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival was held in February 2014 and was headlined by New-York based Cameroonian artist Richard Bona.