Kunle Ayo

Kunle Ayo

Fred Zindi Music
Last year in September, there was an anticipated Harare Jazz Festival featuring Dorothy Masuka, Hugh Masekela, Kunle Ayo, Judith Sephuma and many others which had been scheduled for Belgravia Sports Club. For some unknown reason the show was cancelled much to the disappointment of many Jazz fans.

However, on Saturday September 19, the Harare Jazz Festival at long last brings you your favourite Jazz artistes from past concerts and at the same time will introduce you to some dazzling artistes who may be new to some of you.

Well, the Jazz Festival is here now with a strong line-up of more than 15 artistes who include Dr Oliver Mtukudzi, Judith Sephuma from South Africa, Suzanna Owiyo from Kenya, Louis Mhlanga – a Zimbabwean based in South Africa, Kunle Ayo – a Nigerian also based in South Africa, Mbare Trio comprising Friday Mbirimi, Lovejoy Mbirimi and William Kashiri from Harare, Filbert Marowa from Harare, Vee Mukarati from Harare, Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana and Nyengeterai from Harare, Family Voices, Michael Phillips, Outfit, and In Total – all from Bulawayo. We expect fireworks!

This is also the month in which Zimbabwean jazz icon, Dorothy Masuka celebrates her 80th birthday. Last Thursday a gathering of about 50 people met at PaRoots Restaurant owned by Dr Solomon Guramatunhu at Cambridge Suites in Avondale where a dinner party was organised in honour of Auntie Dot’s birthday. In attendance were Dr Oliver Mtukudzi (who also celebrates his 63rd birthday on the September 22), Daisy Mtukudzi, Dr Gibson Mandishona, Joyce Jenje Makwenda, former Harare Mayor, MuchadeiMasunda, National Arts Council director Elvas Mari and his deputy, Nicholas Moyo, Tariro Ne Gitare, Bob Nyabinde, Ambassador Mazimbela from the South African Embassy, Bernie Bismack, and several others. Speeches expressing joy at Auntie Dot’s birthday were made by several speakers. As expected, Auntie Dot gave us a song “Sarura Wako Kadeya-deya Nendoro Chena” to show all of us that at 80, she can still do it and is still going strong. Her voice is so sweet and mellow that it could calm ten or more deadly storms and even more violent hurricanes.

This concert-cum-festival, dubbed Carnival, Harare Jazz Festival will be held at Spook House (Huh! what a scary name) situated at 190 Mutare Road. It aims at highlighting the important role played by this genre of music known as Jazz and as a means of communication that transcends differences. In short, the promoters, Sam Mataure and Munya Simango feel that Jazz brings communities together.

This is further consolidated by the famous American jazz musician and producer, Quincy Jones who once said: “Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together.

Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity.”

Thanks Quincy. We hope that this will be the impact Jazz will make to Zimbabwean audiences.

Let us take a closer look at some of the known artistes who will be featured at the festival:

Oliver Mtukudzi

Dr Oliver Mtukudzi needs no introduction. He and his brand of Tuku Music is known all over the world.

Kunle Ayo

Kunle Ayo, is probably one of Africa’s most celebrated guitarists. He has earned several musical accolades. A lot of his fans make comparisons with giants of the contemporary school like George Benson, Earl Klugh and B.B. King. In South Africa his competitors include Jimmy Dhludhlu and Louis Mhlanga. This dazzling live performer has 6 albums to date. For every show Kunle Ayo performs in, he leaves his fans inspired and full of positive energy. He is certainly one artiste to watch at the Harare Jazz Festival.

Mbare Trio

Unless you’re way out of touch, you know that the Mbare Trio is the best small–jazz unit in Zimbabwe today. Friday Mbirimi and William Kashiri will certainly dazzle us with their swinging, sophisticated, and sassy vocals. This trio breezes through straight ahead jazz arrangements with fire and finesse.

Louis Mhlanga

I am pleased to know that my former Shakaband-mate, Louis Mhlanga will also appear at this festival. He is one of the best jazz guitarists I have come across over the years. Those of us who have seen him perform in the past, know that they are in for a treat.

When he last performed in Harare at Misty’s Night Club two years ago, he stunned the audience with his virtuosity, and those who saw him for the first time that night feel they played a role in discovering this incredibly talented musician. Louis has recorded some work under his own name – his solo album “Mukai” and “Music Ye Africa” with the late “wicked” drummer, JethroShsha, both at Shed Studios in Harare. In 2001, he released the album “Shamwari|”, Louis’s debut release on the Sheer Sound label. Expect fireworks at the festival!

Judith Sephuma

Judith Sephuma grew up in Polokwane, South Africa and moved to Cape Town in 1994 to study as a jazz vocalist. In 1997, she graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Performer’s Diploma in Jazz and went on to further study. In 1999, she won the “Best Jazz Vocalist” at the Old Mutual Jazz Into The Future competition and signed with the African division of BMG Records.

Her debut album “A Cry, A Smile, A Dance. . . ” was critically acclaimed and she later followed it up with ‘New Beginnings.’

This year, Judith Sephuma released her new album “One Word” and we shall all be treated to songs from this new offering at the festival.

Filbert Marova

Filbert who began his career as an Afro-Pop musician at the age of15 in the Frontline Kids Band has now become of age as a Jazz musician. He is a holder of a degree in Jazz from the Zimbabwe College of music and has been teaching guitar and piano to many scholars since obtaining this degree.

In 2006, after the release of his debut solo album “Kariba Bream”, he won the NAMA award in the jazz category proving that he has got what it takes as a Jazz artiste. He is one artiste to be taken seriously.


Vee is an accomplished Zimbabwean singer, songwriter and saxophonist with an intense passion for musical exploration and performance. He is a graduate of the Berklee Programme.

He has performed with many groups throughout Africa and Europe. Now performing in his own capacity and showcasing music from his solo album “Moto”, his performance at the Harare Jazz Festival will confirm Vee’s place as a major player on the Zimbabwean music scene.

Suzanna Owiyo

It was while preparations were being made for the centennial celebrations of the city of Kisumu in Kenya, that Suzanna was requested to compose a theme song for the opening ceremony. In front of a capacity crowd of 60,000 people “Kisumu 100” was born and immediate success followed; a prolonged applause and a standing ovation.

Suzanna then decided to work on an album with Kenyan music producer Tedd Josiah. The album, which received great success on the radio, won her a nomination in the Kora Wards 2002 in the “Most Promising Female Artist category”.

The same album won her a Kisima Award for the Most Promising Female Artist of 2003. Her new single “Sandore” and the video clip with a powerful message on child labour was also a success.

Numerous concerts in Kenya and abroad followed thereafter. In June 2003, she represented her country at the Kenyan Festival in Paris organized by Alliance Francaise, in August the same year she represented East Africa at the Pan-African music Festival in Brazzaville where she sang alongside YoussorN’dour, Koffi Olomide and Rebecca Malope among other African greats. Her coming to Zimbabwe this month is a blessing for us..

The rest of the expectations at the Harare Jazz Festival will be kept in check when Bulawayo artistes such as InTotal, Outfit, Buhle, Family Voices, Michael Phillips and Norman give their input.

On a different note, I was rather disappointed to read the concert reviews from several newspapers of the Toni Braxton and Davido concerts which were held in the capital recently. In my view, journalists are not capturing the essential elements of a concert.

Readers should be made to feel and grasp the atmosphere and quality of the concert as if they were also present. Journalists should try and capture the entire scene and make those readers who did not attend the concert visualize exactly what was taking place. Yes you can include your own evaluation, but a concert review describes a concert’s overall structure – including its music, musicians, venue, time, and location – and attempts to place the concert in a larger context by comparing it to other concerts. Dr Mahoso, please include “Concert Review” in your syllabus.

◆ Feedback: f_zindi@hotmail.com