The Safaricom International jazz festival was nothing short of magical

Part of BWB [Left to right Kirk Whalum and Rick Braun]
It’s hard to describe how it feels to listen to jazz music live, especially if you’re not an enthusiast, but here is one thing Safaricom was right about, it will move you. It is said that Jazz, like most music, brings people together but it is different in that it can move an entire room. And in that regard, this festival was a success.

[Pic by Steve Nelson @9thwonder_1]
The Safaricom International jazz festival is one of the most successful niche-oriented music festivals in Kenya – partly because of Safaricom and partly because it attracts a crowd of jazz enthusiasts, a small minority in Kenya. However, (even though the festival caters to a minority) over the course of the festival’s four-year journey, Safaricom and in conjunction the festival, has achieved commendable social goals using the funds they’ve raised from previous years.

Norman Brown of BWB [Pic by Steve Nelson @9thwonder_1]
The jazz festival compels everyone, attendees, organisations and artists alike to be socially proactive. The Ghetto Classics, a community-based programme by the Art of Music Foundation is one such social cause that has benefitted from prior festivals.

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This year’s line-up featured some of the most innovative and talented names in Jazz but like most line-ups, there are always the ones you’re awed with, the ones you’re impressed with, the ones who don’t disappoint and the ones who surprise you.

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Jimek was impressive

Radzimir D?bski, who goes by the name Jimek, is one of the composers who captivates an audience. Jimek’s music sounds like he looks. He eerily looks like a young version of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, but he speaks and dresses like a man who grew up in the 90’s – the golden age of hip-hop. He once said in an interview “I was practising Bach at school and listening to Wu-Tang clan on the way home,” and that is honestly the best way to describe him and his compositions.

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If you’ve never heard of Jimek, do yourself a favour and ‘Youtube’ him. I especially recommend Hip-hop History orchestrated by Jimek because only then will you begin to understand how truly mesmerising it was to watch him orchestrate on Sunday.

Femme Fusion was a pleasant surprise

Femme Fusion

This band was a pleasant surprise, an amalgamation of fresh, new and vibrant girl power in every sense of the word. The four were brought together by the British Council East African Arts specifically for the jazz festival. For a band that came together just for the show, they gave an impressive performance that not only showcased their individual talent but their chemistry. It is important to note that their music was put together by the talented Atemi Oyungu for the show.

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The Kenyan jazz bands didn’t disappoint

Not to be outdone by the international acts, the Kenyan bands, Limerick and Mambo Tribe, gave outstanding performances at the festival, making Kenyan jazz enthusiasts very proud. In case you missed the show, you can check out Mambo Tribe’s Facebook page to see when their next show is and watch Limericks perform online because they don’t have a social media account.


The Betty Bears [Pic by Steve Nelson @9thwonder_1
The rest of the line-up left us in awe

This festival is well-known for bringing together some of the best Jazz performers in the world and the just concluded festival was no different. There wasn’t a single performance that fell short of astounding on Sunday and that comes as no surprise given the talent that was on stage from Grammy winners BWB, South Africa’s Gloria Bosman, Israel’s the Betty Bears, Leàn and Joja Wendt. It’s barely been a day and I’m already anticipating the next festival.

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