In marking International Jazz Day courtesy of the Safaricom Jazz Festival, Kenyans are in for a treat with this year’s headlining acts; jazz fusion drummer Paco Séry and arranger-cum-composer Cheick Tidiane Seck.

With an outstanding theme of celebrating African Jazz, the event line-up also features supporting international performances by South Africa’s Mandla Mlangeni and the Tune Creation Committee. Homegrown talent will include celebrated acts such as the Nairobi Horns Project, Kato & the Change band, Jacob & Kavutha Asiyo, Shamsi Music as well as the Safaricom Jazz Festival beneficiary’ Ghetto Classics.

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Paco Séry

Born in Ivory Coast into a family of 18 children, Paco is a drummer with a ‘tremendous stroke’; having made his first drum at the age of 9, and subsequently his first bass drum, it’s easy to see why the description fits to a T! His style of music – a mix of groove, funk and afrobeat – carries both his ancestral and modern influences taking delight in that the tom tom drums were calling on him. Later, Paco moved to Abidjan under the name Paco Solo, the youngest talisman to “Canne à Sucre. It was here that Eddy Louiss crossed paths with him in 1978.

Paco has numerous accolades to his name and has had exemplary performances with Jaco Pastorius, Dianne Reeves, Salif Keita, Papa Wemba, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Bobby McFerrin, Angélique Kidjo, Manu Dibango, Dee Dee Bridgewater among others.

Cheick T. Seck

Cheick is one of Mali’s most prolific composer and performers. A multi-instrumentalist born in 1953 in Segou, Mali, Cheick’s love for music was inspired by his mother – who at 50 had a beautiful singing voice that he likens to Aretha Franklin’s. His career kicked off when he joined the famous Bamako Rail Band as a pianist in the 1970s playing alongside Salif Keita and Mory Kante. In 1978, he moved to Abidjan, Ivory Coast where he learnt guitar and singing. An accomplished musician by 1985, Cheick accompanied Salif Keita and the Ambassadors to Paris, blending in to the world fusion scene.

Since then, Cheick has gone on to work with world renowned musicians including Fela Kuti, Oumou Sangare, Fela Kuti, Toumani Diabate, Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Cliff, Carlos Santana, Joe Zawinul, Manu Dibango, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hank Jones and Habib Koite among others.

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This year, the festival is honoured to partner with the Jazz Sister Cities – an organisation focused on building global cultural bridges through a connection of jazz connections and partnerships. Through the Jazz Sisters Cities, Polish saxophonist/music producer Sylwester Ostrowski & The Jazz Brigade ft Dorota Miskiewicz & Freddie Hendrix who feature in their new album ‘In Our Own Way’.

Proceeds from ticket sales go towards supporting the Ghetto Classics, a music program which has, since the inception of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival in 2014, received approximately KES 60 million. Supporting the training, schooling and basic needs for teens and pre-teens from low income neighbourhoods in Nairobi and Mombasa, Ghetto Classics is set to expand to Kisumu sometime this year.

Memory is a strange thing; and now the ambivalence of expanding what Aretha’s music and alchemy was about is upon us. A tribute concert has been planned for Saturday 15th September at the Braeburn Theatre.

Dubbed “An Evening Remembering Aretha” the event will see a community of Nairobi musicians coming together to honor and celebrate the life of the irreplaceable Queen of Soul.

Tickets are now selling at: https://bit.ly/2BUBNar

Concert-wise, things are getting pretty stimulating and try as I might, I cannot fail to share in the enthusiasm shared by so many for the upcoming show by Chronixx!

Having previously found myself able to appreciate the form and vocal fry of Here Comes Trouble, Likes, Skankin’ Sweet and Loneliness, my impassiveness towards conscious reggae and lovers rock was wonderfully sublimated. Moreover, there is much to admire in the way Chronixx blends and sets up his styles.

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Tickets are available at www.tikiti.co.ke

As it marks its 37th edition since its founding in 1982, Fête de la Musique, aka World Music Day, has seen a fundamental transformation that not only celebrates music but that also offers great opportunities to thousands of music creators, professionals and fans world over.

After a wonderful 2017 edition, Kenya is again set to mark Fête de la Musique on Thursday 21st June at Alliance Française de Nairobi. Headlining this year’s event is Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC), a Soweto-based band whose music draws from indigenous funk and high-energy performances.

“We see ourselves as modern freedom fighters who have to tell the story of Soweto’s past, present and future to the world.” – Jovi Nkosi, singer

According to their official bandcamp site, Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness was started around the year 2004 with a permissive but functional musical form that draws from the trance culture. In their afro-psychedelic style dubbed Africangungungu, the salient integrants of BCUC’s sound are founded on the oral and vocal traditions of chants, songs and shared rhythms that are carried by traditional whistles, horns, drums and, presently, an electric bass guitar.

On a global scale, music is increasingly incorporating the multiplicity of cultures and their various forms of expressions. Locally, much is changing about music with many new, and some established, artists creating remarkable pieces based on the scores of fans’ experiences. Two such artists are local boy band The CBK Music and Swahili Dub Queen Binti Afrika who will also be featured in the program line-up.

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Event Details:

Date: Thursday, June 21; Venue: Alliance Française de Nairobi;

Time: 7:00 pm; Entry: Free