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(Published: January 26, 2011)

EARTH, Wind & Fire will headline the Cape Town International Jazz Festival this year.

The US R&B/funk band - lauded for their sophisticated horn section, melodic singles and textured arrangements - will play at the 12th annual jazz fest, which will take place on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26.

The Cape Town International Conventional Centre is again home to the festival, during which 40 international and local jazz artists will play on five stages over two days.

In addition to the performances, the festival will also encompass Gigs for Kids, a golf day, a free concert, the Duo Tone Exhibition, an arts journalism course, music workshops, master classes and after-parties, where musicians will jam late into the night.

The rest of the line-up is sure to excite jazz lovers and includes the Wayne Shorter Quartet, US songbird Esperanza Spalding, the New Orleans-born trumpeter Christian Scott and the multi-disciplinary singer Hanjin Tan from Singapore on the international side.

Local musicians include Dave Ledbetter and the Clearing, the Lisa Bauer Quartet, Simphiwe Dana, Gang of Instrumentals and Gazelle.

Ticket prices have increased slightly to R499 for a weekend pass, R365 for a day pass and R25 extra for performances at Rosies (the stage for extreme jazz connoisseurs).

The regular, and extremely popular, free concert on Green Market Square starts at 5pm on Wednesday, March 23.

For aspirant musicians the most exciting aspect of this year's training and development programme is the involvement of two of the US's most prestigious music schools. Juilliard School in New York City and Berklee College of Music in Boston will facilitate interactive workshops, auditions and clinics.

Berklee College will also offer a one-year scholarship for a student, as well as a semester scholarship for three students and online scholarships for five students, while Juilliard is finalising its involvement.

Musicians and students will be invited to attend these workshops and more information will be forthcoming on the festival's website (www.capetownjazzfest.com)

Research into last year's festival by the Institute for Tourism and Leisure Studies showed that loyal attendees at the 2010 festival mostly spent their money on accommodation, followed by food, restaurants and transport to the festival. The event itself generated R43 million spent by visitors, while the total direct spending amounted to R52.6m.

The event created 731 temporary and permanent jobs in the Western Cape, and this excluded the people directly involved in the organising committee. Last year 34 000 people attended the festival, which is more than double the reported 14 000 who attended the first festival, back when it was still known as the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town.


SIMPHIWE DANA - SOUTH AFRICA: This SA Music Award-winning Xhosa songstress has in a short time become well known for fusing jazz, pop and traditional music to great effect. She is raising her international profile, but still manages to keep up the presence at home. Her recently released studio album, Kulture Noire, follows the critically acclaimed Zandisile (2004) and The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street (2006).

HANJIN TAN - CHINA: Chinese jazz singer Hanjin Tan probably came to the attention of the jazz festival organisers for his work on the live recorded album Raw Jazz (2009). It features scat singing and convincing lyric interpretation with a laid-back attitude. He is a tenor with a flexible range extending into falsetto and he apparently does a really good mouth trumpet impression.

CHRISTIAN SCOTT - US: Grammy Award-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott is noted for his use of an unvoiced tone, which he calls his whisper technique. If you google the New Orleans-born composer and producer you will see that many websites reference a JazzTimes magazine quote calling him "the architect of a new commercial viable fusion".

LISA BAUER QUARTET - SOUTH AFRICA: Drummer and vocalist Lisa Bauer's quartet's debut album Finding a New Way (2010) was influenced by her studies in New York and San Francisco.

DAVE KOZ - US: This smooth jazz saxophonist played the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2009 alongside headliner, Jonathan Butler, and has played the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz and been to South Africa several times, so he's no stranger to local audiences.

GANG OF INSTRUMENTALS - SOUTH AFRICA: The Joburg-based urban trio give voice to what is popular locally. They have a tv profile, and have branched into film, but it's really all about the music.

PATRICIA BARBER - US: This piano-playing vocalist sings in a fairly low register and a traditional jazz/blues style. Still, she doesn't exactly conform to conventional idioms and does write her own material as well as putting her own spin on what she hears in the pop world.

MONIQUE BINGHAM -US: If you google this artist you're more likely to find mp3 samples of David Guetta or Ralf Gum's work featuring her as a vocalist, and she's all over Myspace and YouTube. She has worked with Naked Music's Blue Six, Sir Piers and if you really want to go way back, was the voice of late 1990s live band Abstract Truth.

IVAN MAZUZE - MOZAMBIQUE /SOUTH AFRICA: A saxophonist and UCT Master's graduate who has performed with several of South Africa's top jazz musicians and at international jazz festivals. His debut album, Maganda, was nominated in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category at the 2010 Samas.

DAVE LEDBETTER AND THE CLEARING - SOUTH AFRICA: While they draw on everything from funk to groove and the sounds of Africa, this six-piece band consist of some of the hottest jazz musicians to be found on the local scene: Dave Ledbetter (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, fretless guitar and lap steel; Buddy Wells (saxophones); Kesivan Naidoo (drums); Andrew Lilley (piano and keyboards); Shane Cooper (double bass, acoustic bass and electric bass) and Lee Thomson (trumpet and flugelhorn).

SANDRA CORDEIRO - ANGOLA: A vocalist who performed at the inaugural Luanda Jazz Festival, fusing Angolan rhythms into the traditional US jazz genre. Reaching the finals of Radio France International's Prix Découverts (2010 Discovery Prize) highlights France's current fascination for all things musical from Africa.

THE FLAMES - SOUTH AFRICA/US: This official reunion of the Durban pop trio, formed in 1963, will coincide with a release of remastered recordings by the group of Burning Soul (1987) and Soulfire (1968), which is great for fans since the original master tapes were destroyed in a fire. Steeped in Atlantic soul and the Motown sound, The Flames were first non-white local band to hit the Top 20 chart on Springbok Radio. They were the first group to record with Brother Records (the label owned by the Beach Boys), and two of them joined the Beach Boys after The Flames disbanded in 1970.

ESPERANZA SPALDING - US: This young multi-instrumentalist is fast making a name for herself as a jazz vocalist and bassist. One of the youngest professors at Berklee College of Music, Spalding has released three albums and collaborated with Fourplay, Christian Scott, Donald Harrison and Theresa Perez, among others, and has been nominated in the Best New Artist category at this year's Grammys.

GAZELLE - SOUTH AFRICA: They call what they do Lim Pop to indicate their origins and play a mix of electro, disco, funk, pop and African contemporary, but they're so much more than just what you hear. They use music, dance, art, photography and fashion to comment on and satirically condemn corruption and the antics of African despots.

YOUSSOU N'DOUR - SENEGAL: The singing percussionist helped to develop the popular style of singing known as mbalax. He mixes this with everything from Cuban samba to hip hop and often filters his Senegalese culture through a contemporary lens of genre-defying rock and pop.

lHUBERT LAWS - US: Spanning a career of 40-plus years, this saxophonist and flautist moves effortlessly between jazz, pop, rhythm and blues and classical. Grammy Award-nominated, Laws is as comfortable with a symphony orchestra as he is recording a studio session.

EARTH WIND & FIRE - US: Earth Wind & Fire passed through South Africa fleetingly in 2004, after they played at the gala show of M-Net's musical talent reality tv programme Project Fame, but that was without members Maurice White and Phillip Bailey. But all the band members will definitely be here later this year. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and performed at the first formal White House dinner hosted by Barack and Michelle Obama in 2009.

WAYNE SHORTER QUARTET - US: Virtuoso saxophonist Wayne Shorter will be coming out to the fest with drummer Brian Blade, pianist Danilo Perez and bassist John Patitucci. Acknowledged as one of jazz's greatest living composers, Shorter was in Miles Davis's second great quintet, led jazz fusion band Weather Report in the 1970s and has seen many of his compositions become jazz standards.

More Information: http://www.capetownjazzfest.com

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