Bringing Jazz back to the theatre and honouring some of the finest jazz musicians in the Western Cape, Artscape Theatre Centre has meticulously chosen a combination of bands and musicians for the 2018 Jazz Masters Series, directed by Craig Parks. Each night from 27 to 29 September 2018 will be themed and includes original music by individual performers as well as the works of well-known South African composers.

Representing multicultural styles of Jazz, ranging from Big Band, Straight-Ahead, African, and South African Contemporary to Mainstream Jazz, these groups of musicians have all received international acclaim. Each headline artist is a Master in his or her own right, winning over audiences around the world, continue to nurture, and inspire new generations of jazz musicians in the Western Cape.

Thursday, 27 September was dedicated to Masterful Women in Jazz with Lana Crowster (Vocalist) and her Lady Day Big Band, featuring, Kelly Bell (trombonist/composer), Amanda Tiffin as Music Director/Conductor and a guest vocalist.  The Lady Day Big Band is South Africa’s first all-female big band, consisting entirely of professional female musicians. This 20-piece band incorporates contemporary styles with traditional sounds, gave audiences an exciting big band experience.

Friday 28 September opens the platform to the Young Masters of Jazz opening with Saxophonist Buddy Wells and his Quartet, which includes Reza Khota (Guitar), Nick Williams (Bass) and Clement Benny (Drums). Rooted mostly in the South African music traditions and modern jazz, they will perform original compositions.  Based in Cape Town, Wells has performed and recorded with many well-known South African and international music legends.

The second half of the programme features Mandisi Dyantyis on Trumpet and Vocals together with an ensemble of five musicians. Mandisi is a composer, arranger and producer, not only Jazz but also Classical and African Indigenous Music.  He is well known for performing original compositions and cleverly re-arranged African traditional Jazz songs. This ensemble includes Blake Hellaby on Piano and Buddy Wells joins the group.  The evening includes a special dedication to Hugh Masekela.

On 29 September, The John Ntshibilikwana Legends of Jazz open the show. Bra John, as he is affectionately known, will perform well known African Traditional Jazz Classics and Township Jazz Classics with his powerful 18-piece rhythm and brass ensemble. Many of the musicians are seasoned session players and veterans of Township Jazz. Bra John, who celebrated his 80th birthday this month, has also created a wonderful opportunity for some of Cape Town’s up and coming young jazz masters to join forces with his masterful group of legends.  The band includes John as Music Director and Baritone Sax, seven saxophonists, four trumpeters, three trombonists, one bass player, a keyboard musician and drummer.

The Jazz Master Series this year takes the opportunity to highlight not only the musicians of Jazz, but also supporters of Jazz music. One such group is iKapa Jazz Movement who chose to celebrate their 10th Anniversary alongside their music heroes at this performance.

‘Jazz in Cape Town has always had a strong support’, says Ntshibilikwana. ‘It’s an honour to perform in front of a truly appreciative audience like the members of iKapa.’

Alvin Dyers and Friends close the festival of Living Legends with a five-piece band performing some of Alvin’s original pieces as well as renowned Cape Jazz and Goema favourites. On stage with Dyers (Guitar) are Tina Europa (Bass) Roy Davids (Drums), Nick Williams (Keyboards) and Zeke Le Grange (Saxophone) as well as four guest vocalists, Emily Bruce, Erika Lundi, Danny Butler and Joe Schaffers.