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International day of jazz: Local concert on the cards

Josh Meck

Last month, UNESCO announced Tangier, a city located in Northwest Morocco as the global host of this year's 13th edition of International Jazz Day making it Africa’s first city to host the event ever since it made its debut in 2012.

The centerpiece of the event will be at the new Palace of Arts and Culture of Tangier where an international line-up of artists will perform at an all-star global concert.

Celebrated annually on April 30, Jazz Day takes place in more than 190 countries across the world including Zimbabwe.

It is commemorated through a variety of activities such as music concerts, jam sessions, lectures and conversations about its heritage as one of the most influential and enduring music genres of all time.

The Zimbabwean edition is being coordinated by award-winning artist Josh Meck. Themed  “Century of Jazz”, the concert will be hosted at the Zimbabwe German Society (ZGS) in Milton Park and will feature Mono Mukundu, Josh Meck, Victor Kunonga, and songbirds Rute Mbangwa, Nicholar Mutuwa, and Prudence Katomeni.

In an interview with Heart and Soul Broadcasting Services (HStv), a division of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), Meck said that the theme of the concert is a reflection of jazz music that made an impact between the 19th and 20th centuries and that the artists will be incorporating their interpretations of some of the songs from that era.

“Our show is going to be more like a story. We are starting with jazz which was played at the beginning of the century. After each song, we will mention the name of the composer and the historical context surrounding the song,” he said.

The concert will also be a celebration of Zimbabwe’s contribution to jazz music on a global scale as the country has not only embraced jazz but also actively contributed to its development. The story of August Musarurwa and his iconic song “Skokiaan” exemplifies this perfectly. “Skokiaan,” named after a banned township brew, became a powerful symbol of cultural resistance and artistic expression.

Its popularity transcended borders, capturing the attention of jazz giant Louis Armstrong who had visited the country in 1961.

Armstrong went on to make a cover of the song and introduced it to a wider audience. The song was covered by several international artists and adapted to various musical styles.

“We are going to highlight the milestone that the late Musarurwa achieved by composing a great track. We are going to play it and twist it with a modern sound.”

The female artists in the line-up will also be performing jazz covers of prominent people who have influenced jazz in Zimbabwe as well as the Southern African region such as Miriam Makeba, Oliver Mtukudzi and Abdullah Ibrahim to mention but a few.

Beyond the concert, Meck hinted at plans for educational outreach in schools. “We have schools that have embraced jazz.

We don’t have the capacity yet to go out of Harare but we are going to be doing workshops in schools such as Prince Edward, Churchill and Eaglesvale to speak about Jazz and the technical side of the genre to new students and budding musicians who are into jazz.”

Additionally, he stated that in the future they would want to host the event in different parts of the country as they are aware that there are people who love jazz music in those areas. “We also need to spread jazz throughout Zimbabwe because there are people who are unaware of the genre but who will fall in love and embrace it if they know about it.”

The honorary guest of the concert is be jazz enthusiast Dr Solomon Guramatunhu. Tickets can be purchased at the venue for USD 10.00, or online via contacts on Meck's Facebook page.

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 and recognised by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide.

The annual International Jazz Day celebration highlights the power of jazz and its role in promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity and respect for human dignity.

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