The Sunday News
Nkosilathi Sibanda, Sunday Life Correspondent
WATCHING Nigerian guitarist Kunle Ayo on stage proves why there is no jazz club that does not play his music in Africa.
He proved that to local jazz lovers who braved last weekend’s cold spell to attend this year’s edition of the Spring Jazz show held at Mpala Events in Bulawayo.
The show was curated by Big Scale Entertainment who of late are at the forefront of propping local jazz music through organising concerts
and weekend jamming sessions in various city clubs.
On the show, Ayo, the South Africa-based muso, did not disappointed a bit. Having started his act way past 10PM, he made every moment count with his unique stroll of the guitar that he is famously known for. More of “that” jazz feeling filled the large hall as the headline act lifted the verve of otherwise shivering revellers who waited with bated breath for Ayo to plug his instrument.
Performing at the show whose tagline was on uniting Africa, Ayo invited on stage local artistes Mr Prince, Bulawayo Jazz Club, Jeys Marabini, Tripple C, Amanzi’Amoyo and the Cool Crooners as he gave the audience a surprise.
Before he could belt out his best, the Nigerian had earlier sampled Marabini and the Crooners’ performances. The artistic fusion made a huge complement to event organisers in their quest to make the show a platform to denounce the divisive elements, like the xenophobia incidents that have rocked African communities in recent past.
Ayo played his acclaimed number Joromi, and had the crowd nimble-footed. From stomping waltz, the dance floor turned into a Nigerian music terrain at the heart of Bulawayo.
His highlight of the show was when he strung the guitar, churning out popular Nigerian songs.
On being asked of his view on Bulawayo’s jazz music, Ayo was quick on praise and how local performers left him in awe.
“Zimbabwe has got talent. I have a lot of respect for Zimbabwe’s jazz musicians. It is not the first time I have interacted or watched them on stage.
Over the years I have followed the music and performances and I must say it is wonderful, full of talent and pomp,” said Ayo.
Spokesperson of the Spring Feelings Jazz show, Sibonginkosi “Mr Prince” Tshabalala, said the annual fête lived to its billing as they aimed at using jazz music to unite Africans.
“It was a show. We have big plans to bring as many African jazz musicians to perform. The aim is to unite through music. There is no weapon stronger to unite people other than music. Jazz music heals broken souls and liberates the oppressed. Our headline act this year, Kunle Ayo was sensational but, we applaud the local artistes who supported the show.
“As Big Scale Entertainment we assure jazz lovers in the country that we are to make the show bigger and attractive. We are on a mission to revive the once vibrant local jazz scene.
Big Scale Entertainment’s footprint in music promotion is evident in the Jazz and Whisky Club that has garnered followers since its formation.
“Bulawayo has long been famed as the home of jazz but the music genre lost its appeal in public spaces, with artistes taking a sabbatical. This was caused by poor marketing and promotion. With such shows as the Spring Feelings festival, there is more we can accomplish to bring the genre back to life,” said Tshabalala.
Ayo encouraged local musos to do collaborations if they want to make it big.
“One has to work hard and that means putting a lot of time into making good music. Besides, let us not wait to be invited to shows but make own initiatives. There is no harm in asking for a collaboration.
Young artistes must work with established artistes in order to gain recognition and make names. In doing so, as musicians of jazz we grow the brand, especially in Africa.”
He has worked with long-time friend and local musician Mr Prince, the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Simphiwe Dana, RJ Benjamin, the late Jabu Khanyile and a lot more.
Tshabalala said out of their love of jazz at Big Scale Entertainment, they saw it fit to bring together jazz musicians and prove the point that the music is still there.
“We want to bring people together. We are hitting the ground running and I must say many musicians are joining the wagon. Jazz is alive.
“We invite bands from all over the country to come and play in our sessions. We really see something happening with this initiative with regards to jazz which is pleasing as this will certainly keep the genre alive.”