Journey to Jazz 2024 Featured Artists

Skyjack (SA/Switzerland)

Skyjack is what happens when a heavyweight South African jazz trio meets a pair of Swiss reed and brass masters. Over the course of a decade, this all-star quintet has forged a reputation as an innovative and adventurous force in contemporary African and European jazz. Combining deep grooves with thrilling rides and avant-garde experimentation, Skyjack is a powerhouse both on stage and in the studio.

Light Cycle, released 2 February 2024, is the band’s third recorded outing and documents a seasoned outfit at its most ambitious and accomplished. Featuring compositions from all members of the group, the album is a multidimensional creature with a big heart and a powerful imagination. Part science fiction adventure, part sentimental journey, ‘Light Cycle’ reconciles expansive cosmic soundscapes with a solid grounding in memory and folklore and will make its African debut at the Prince Albert Journey to Jazz festival.

Issued as a double-LP on the As-Shams/The Sun label, Skyjack joins both a catalogue and tradition of ground-breaking South African jazz dating back to the 1970s. The album’s cover features the work of esteemed Cape Town artist Igshaan Adams.

Skyjack members: MARC STUCKI (saxophone), Andreas Tschopp (Trombone, Kudu Horn), Kyle Shepherd (piano), Shane Cooper (double bass) and Jonno Sweetman (drums).

Giuliette Price (SA)

Originally from Johannesburg, Giuliette Price wasted no time in making her mark in Cape Town’s jazz scene since her 2021 relocation. Currently in her final year at UCT’s South African College of Music, she’s not only frequently gigging but also fostering community through her role as founder of the ii V I Jazz Jam at Barleycorn Music Club. Giuliette’s performances at esteemed venues like The Blue Room, UCT Jazz Festival at The Baxter Theatre, and Makhanda Standard Bank Jazz Festival have solidified her reputation as a rising jazz star.

As a soloist at the inaugural Journey to Jazz Festival in 2023, Giuliette captivated audiences with the UCT Little Big Band. Now, she’s poised to bring her original project to the Journey to Jazz line-up, aiming to blend jazz harmony with popular music to broaden jazz’s appeal. With her solo project featuring young jazz talents, Giuliette is set to breathe new life into the genre, making it accessible to a wider audience. She’s thrilled to be part of the festival’s line-up and looks forward to sharing her passion for jazz with audiences.

Joining Giuliette at Journey to Jazz are Keno Carelse (drums), Luke Verrezen (bass), Nobuhle Ashanti (piano) and B-Rae on Trumpet.

Afrika Mkhize Quartet (SA)

Afrika Mkhize is a renowned South African pianist, producer, music director, film score writer and music arranger who has worked with notable artists such as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.  Whilst predominantly known for his jazz works, Mkhize versatility and creative genius also embraces such genres as classical, Hip Hop and House. He has received numerous awards, including the “Standard Bank Young Artist Award” in 2012. On 14 October 2015, he released his debut album, Raindancer, and tours extensively with “The Afrika Mkhize Quartet” and “The Rainmakers”.

Darren English Quartet (SA and USA)

South African born but US-based jazz trumpeter, and internationally recognised visual artist, Darren English is a multi-award-winning musician in much demand by audiences and artists alike.  His long list of awards include the 2023 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz, as well as the 2020 and 2018 Global Peace Song Award in the Jazz category. He has also received several other awards, including the 2012 SAMRO Overseas Award and the JAZZIZ Magazine Critics’ Pick for BEST-OF-THE-YEAR 2016 and the HUFFINGTON POST BEST-of-2016. English is also a brand ambassador, and lecturer at the University of Cape Town. He has performed with renowned artists such as Grammy Award winning artists such as saxophonist Kebbi Williams, drummer Marcus Gilmore, and PJ Morton among others.

Thandi Ntuli Presents Swiss/SA Collab Band: “A Million O Clock” (SA/Switzerland)

Thandi Ntuli negotiates a wide palette of sound and genre which embraces her family lore – a classical singer aunt, after whom she is named; her uncle (Selby Ntuli) who was a member of Afro-rock band Harari; and her grandfather Levi Godlib Ntuli, who fostered among his children a tradition of composing, playing, and singing music together. That tradition lives on and can be experienced in Thandi’s music.

Spanning a 13-year career, Thandi has carved a unique space for herself with her frank-yet-empathetic and vulnerable self-introspection and that of the world, that has birthed a body of work that facilitates our access to our histories, presents and futures. For Thandi, music is community, and community care. Her work is an unapologetic ownership and celebration of all that we are.

Being accustomed to presenting her craft in different formats, the much loved and highly respected South African jazz vocalist, pianist, and composer, will present a special ensemble comprising of some of the artists she met whilst on her studio residency in Switzerland in 2019. Thandi will be putting together a set of compositions and arrangements curated exclusively for the Journey to Jazz programme – “A Million O’Clock”. Thandi’s appearance at Journey to Jazz is supported by Pro Helvetia.

Adam ZanoliNI’s Heliacal Rising of Sothis (USA)

Adam Zanolini is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, ethnomusicologist, writer, and arts organiser based in Chicago. Zanolini’s project, “The Heliacal Rising of Sothis,” is a tribute to legendary jazz trumpeter and co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Kelan Phil Cohran. The ensemble formed in 2022, performs works composed by Zanolini while studying with Bro. Phil, or inspired by his teachings, and comprises Zanolini, Ben Lamar Gay (cornetist), Fred Jackson Jr. (saxophonist), Sharon Udoh (pianist), and Naydja Bruton (drummer). 

Zanolini’s highest ambition is to be a community musician: to cultivate and share knowledge through music to help heal, strengthen, and empower the Black community, and his tour to Prince Albert marks Zanolini and ensemble’s first visit to South Africa.

Giovanni Guidi Trio (Italy/USA)

The Giovanni Guidi Trio is a renowned musical group known for their unique sound and style, combining elements of jazz, classical music, and improvisation. The group comprises three highly skilled members, namely multi-award-winning Giovanni Guidi on piano, Thomas Morgan on bass, and Joao Lobo on drums. They have released several albums and collaborations, including “This is the Day,” which was nominated for a prestigious award. They have performed at various venues and festivals worldwide, receiving critical acclaim for their live performances.

The Karoo Jazz Project – Directed by Ramon Alexander (SA)

Ramon Alexander is an “extraordinary” Jazz musician, pianist and composer who is considered a leading exponent of ‘Cape Jazz’ and is currently training Prince Albert’s very own, Karoo Jazz Project, a youth development band from Noodeinde. He has worked with various artists, including Robbie Jansen, McCoy Mrubata, and Terumasa Hino, and has performed at numerous local and international music festivals. He has two albums to his credit and has produced several recording projects. Alexander is also a lecturer in jazz piano and ensemble at the University of Stellenbosch and conducts jazz ensemble workshops with youth bands across the Western Cape.

UCT Little Big Band (SA)

For decades, the University of Cape Town Music School has produced some of the finest young jazz musicians in the country. Presented here is a selection of UCT’s top jazz vocal and Big Band music co-ordinated by Amanda Tiffin, the highly experienced Head of Jazz at UCT. Tiffin in her own right, is an accomplished and much-loved pianist-vocalist and musician, composer, and arranger and under her expert direction, the UCT Little Big Band is set to thrill audiences of all ages.

Women of the World (India, USA, Turkey, Japan)

Women of the World is an award-winning international a cappella quartet that performs original and traditional folk music with a contemporary twist, in 37 languages. The four singers represent Japan, Turkey, India, and the USA.

Despite differences in their upbringing, language, religion, ethnicity, food, and music, they are bound by one unique desire: to explore sounds, rhythms, and musical vocabulary from all over the world. Since 2008, Women of the World has journeyed through the music of Africa, South America, Asia and Europe, presenting audiences an exhilarating experience through chants, storytelling, dance, percussion, and improvisation.

Mentored by Grammy-award winning maestro, Bobby McFerrin, Women of the World have also collaborated with powerhouse American songstress Nona Hendryx, African vocal icon Angelique Kidjo, Greek classical artist Mario Frangoulis,and the Boston Pops Orchestra led by maestro conductor Keith Lockhart.

Their many accolades include winning the title of 2017 world champions at the International A Cappella competition OPEN by Varsity Vocals, becoming 2014 Harmony Sweepstakes national champions, and being nominated for the 2014 Independent Music Awards and the 2013 Boston Music Awards. They have extensively toured North America, Europe, and Asia.

Women of the World band members are Ayumi Ueda (Japan), Annette Philip (India), Stacy Rene Erenberg (USA) Heiraza (Turkey) and pianist/keyboardist, Hinako Sato (Japan).

Cameron Ward (SA)

Internationally acclaimed South African Afro-jazz guitarist and solo artist, Cameron Ward, is hailed as one of the most versatile guitarists of his generation, counting such legends as Jonathan Butler and Jimmy Dludlu who bought him his first guitar, as heroes and influences. Ward played with Hugh Masekela, who had been looking for a new sound, for almost a decade and who called him one of his “favourite musicians”. Ward has headlined performances at prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall and The Hollywood Bowl, with his sound guaranteed to get people dancing to his unique African beat. He is also the founder of the CW Music Foundation, which provides free music lessons to underprivileged children in Cape Town.

Artistic Director 2024 Kyle Shepherd (SA)

One of South Africa’s leading pianists, film, and theatre music composers of his generation, Kyle Shepherd is internationally recognized for his distinctive compositional style and performances.  Shepherd has released seven jazz albums and several film, TV, and theatre scores. He has won several awards, including the 2018 South African Humanities and Social Sciences Award, the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award, and the UNISA Piano Award 2015. His talent has taken him to 26 countries on four continents, where he has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues. He holds a master’s degree in music from Stellenbosch University and is also the co-creator of the popular Afrikaans TV series, Koortjies Met Jonathan Rubain.

Jonathan Rubain en die Koortjies Band (SA)

Born in Hanover Park, gospel and jazz musician, Jonathan Rubain, walked away with the Best Male Artist Award at the Victory Gospel Music Awards in 2016. He also has hosted and organised several shows in Hanover Park, such as the Hanover Park Jazz Festival. He is best known for his gospel music, and TV series called Koortjies on kykNET and KIE. Rubain’s love for music has afforded him the opportunity to travel and he has performed in the US, Norway, France, Malaysia, Zimbabwe as well as South Africa. He will perform with his 11-piece band at Journey to Jazz.

Stirling Big Band (SA)

Stirling High School in East London has developed one of the most successful high school jazz programmes in the country, which was started in 1992 by Alan Webster. The band has performed in over 40 towns and cities around southern Africa in venues ranging from game reserves to school halls to the leading professional jazz venues in the country. They have performed at the National Arts Festival and National Jazz Festival, Makhanda on many occasions, as well as the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, the Hilton Arts Festival and at various South African Jazz Educators conferences around the country. 

Over the years, the band has also toured Zimbabwe, Holland, Germany, Namibia, and Britain where they performed at the Wigan International Festival. 

In the past 30 years, over 90 students have been selected for the National Schools Jazz Band, and numerous past students of the band have made a name for themselves with a career in music.  These include musicians like Kerry Hiles, Siya Makuzeni, Lwanda Gogwana, Murray Buitendag and Athi Ngcaba. The band has produced 9 CDs and a video and plays regularly around the Eastern Cape for different audiences – primary schools, community centres, old-age homes and for serious jazz audiences.