Jimmy Dludlu for Old Mutual Jazz Encounter

Jazz revellers will be treated to some groovy jazz music this spring as the Old Mutual Jazz Festival comes to town this coming Saturday.South African jazz legends Jimmy Dludlu and Simphiwe Dana will add the international flavour to the festival which will be held at the Hage Geingob Stadium where Major 7’s, Adora, The Fu Jazz All Star Band, R.U.N NAMS, Big Ben and Suzy Eises will add the local touch. Dludlu will be the trump card to this year’s jazz fest and he is no stranger to the region, having worked with various southern African bands including Impandze from Swaziland, featuring Jamaican singer Trevor Hall, Kalahari and Satari from Botswana, as well as Anansi, featuring the Ghanaian saxophonist George Lee.  A founder member of the highly successful group Loading Zone, which went on to tour across the continent, backing a range of South African stars including Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Chicco and Sipho Mabuse, Dludlu came toured Namibia with Loading Zone in 1992, where they were spotted by then Zairean world-music star Papa Wemba, who subsequently asked the band to back him on several dates in Namibia. Today, Jimmy Dludlu’s style includes wide-ranging influences, combining both traditional and modern elements of jazz drawn from among others Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Pat Metheny, to South African legends Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela, Themba Mokwena, and Allen Kwela.  Namibian revelers are likely to be drawn to the sounds of west and central Africa, as well as Latin America, although Dludlu’s numerous original compositions fall within the tradition of what has been loosely termed Afro-Jazz. The jazz festival, which is organised by Old Mutual, has become an annual event since inception in 2007, and many enthusiasts in Namibia always look forward to this important event on the jazz music calendar. International artists like Lira, Judith Sepuma, Zamajobe Don Laka, Vusi Mahlasela and Freshly Ground, just to name few, have graced previous events to woo thousands of music lovers.  The jazz festival has grown in leaps and bounds over the years with its fan base increasing from 100 people attending the first jazz festival in 2007 at Zoo Park in Windhoek to 4000 enthusiasts attending last year’s event at Vegkop Stadium.  According to Old Mutual’s Manetti Ashante: “The success of this event has surpassed all expectations and has matured to an event of fundamental magnitude for its scale and positive contribution to the community as whole.” Ashante added that Old Mutual’s primary objective was ’to engage the community, in addition to this, the Jazz encounters aim to promote the genre locally by providing a platform for fresh upcoming Namibian talent’. “Old Mutual consistently strives to do great things every year and make every jazz encounter more special and bigger than the last,” Ashante said.  In 2008 lucky fans won an all-expenses paid trip to the 2009 Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and this year fans stand a chance to win fabulous prizes including Blackberry phones.   Ashante promised jazz lovers a night to remember as Saturday night will be another evening filled with live music, and an opportunity to mingle and relax and celebrate the coming of spring and summer in style - PF