Thursday, 22 April 2010

The boy is doing it in Harare

The Easter holidays were the best I have had in years. I attended the Cape Town Jazz festival, which continues to grow in leaps. Back in 2004, the last show I attended- the festival was still a charming little affair. The years have given it bouts of exuberance and it’s a much larger affair courting fans from all over the globe.

I met 3 of my friends who had made the trek from afar shores- signally how global it has become. Though I enjoyed all the acts, I kept being reminded that the previous year’s show was the best. With nothing to compare with, I ravelled in the exploits of many artists

But, nothing at all prepared me for the Harare Jazz Festival this last Saturday at Harare Sports club. Still dazed in the aftermath of the Cape Town festival, I thought $50 a ticket was a tad too much. I got more than I bargained for, and so did 5,000 other Jazz fans. Tuku kicked off with his late son’s band to a sombre soliloquy of tunes written by his late son- being a novice of his late son’s music I rather thought the lyrics were foretelling a premonition in waiting

If Tuku’s performance was mediocre  ( quite understandable given the circumstances), the crowd was soon jumpstarted by the Sibongile Khumalo. It’s not only the variation of her voice that captures the ear lobes but this larger than life (literally) character did in one act what Mama Makeba did in a show.  The jazzy tapestry experienced was indeed world class.

Of course the night belonged to bra Hugh. The husky voice bellowed, blew the sax, cracked a joke and made hissing sounds of a train heading “ deep deep DEEP, DEEP down the mines of egoli”. The boy was doing it in Harare. I have heard bra Hugh’s music in London and Cape Town, but in Harare he connected with the crowd like no other, reminiscent he did say, of his time in the 80’s in Harare.

Although most of the patrons were local, something in the air told me Harare is back. I suppose people by nature are a herd, waiting for the buzzer to go off and see what Harare is like. In my mind, 10 years from today we shall recount when the turn occurred, I shall argue bra Hugh was the signal.