The 12th Cape Town International Jazz Festival, taking place in Cape Town from tomorrow, is estimated to inject R475 million into the economy of Cape Town, to contribute R685 million to the GDP of South Africa, and has created 2000 jobs, reports the Cape Argus.  The headline act is Earth, Wind and Fire, and 42 artists will perform at the Jazz Festival, half of them from Africa and the rest from other countries.

Last year the International Jazz Festival attracted 34000 jazz lovers over two days, making it the single largest event in Cape Town, said Joey Pather, the CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, inside and outside of which the Jazz Festival takes place.  President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the economic importance in terms of income and job creation of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival during his State of the Nation address in February. 

The attendance is expected to grow when the Convention Centre expands its capacity.   Sponsorship of the Jazz Festival has been under pressure, especially last year, due to the World Cup, but 95 % of the tickets have been sold to date.   More visitors to the Jazz Festival are from Gauteng, with the Western Cape surprisingly having the lowest number of Jazz Festival attendees.   About a quarter of all attendees are from overseas.

The spokesperson of the Western Cape Department of Tourism said that the direct benefit of the International Jazz Festival is R 43 million, spent on flights, hotels, restaurants, shopping and other expenditure. The CEO of S A Tourism, Thandiwe January-McLean, praised the contribution of the Jazz Festival: “South African Tourism takes great pride in supporting this world-class event that has helped showcase our country as a (sic) unique lifestyle and musical destination”.

Some of the acts performing at the International Jazz Festival include Youssou N’Dour, Gang of Instrumentals, Chad Saaiman, Mathew Moolman, Lloyd Jansen, Hugh Masekela, Larry Willis, David Ledbetter and the Clearing, and Bebe Winans.  Some ‘concept bands’ will be created especially for the Jazz Festival, such as the ‘Tribute to Oscar Peterson’ concept band, which will consist of Jack van der Poll, James Scholfield and Hein van de Geyn, and play Peterson’s repertoire.  Guitafrika is another concept band, and consists of beloved local guitarist Steve Newman, Eric Triton from Mauritius, and Alhousseini Mohammed Aniviolla from Niger.   The Cape Town Tribute Band will be put together to do exactly that, paying tribute to the many jazz musicians who passed away in the past year, including Tony Schilder (‘Montreal’), Winston Mankunku, Robbie Jansen, and Hotep Galeta (‘Harold’s Bossa’).   The fourth concept band includes bassist Victor Masondo, and will see him perform live – he was recently invited to perform at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in Washington.   The ‘concept bands make the festival unique.  People have the opportunity to see bands that they are unlikely to see somewhere else or in their lifetime” said Rashid Lombard, the creator and Festival Director of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town.   www.capetownjazzfest.com  25 -27 March.  Book at Computicket.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage