January 11, 2016. Posted by Josh Landes.
Saxophonist Donny McCaslin and keyboardist Jason Lindner worked with the late David Bowie on what will be his final record, Blackstar. They came into the WBGO studios to talk about the experience with Simon Rentner for The Checkout.
© 2016 WBGO
April 29, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
Twenty-five WBGO members visited South Africa this March with Midday Jazz host Rhonda Hamilton and The Checkout's Simon Rentner.
In addition to soaking up the sights and sounds of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, they enjoyed the Rainbow Nation's wildlife, culture, heritage, historical sites, golf and vibrant urban communities in Johannesburg, Soweto and Cape Town.
Rhonda, Simon, and reporter Giovanni Russonnello share insights with us in a wonderful series of photo essays, news features and interviews. Click on the links below to share their Rainbow Nation experiences. Enjoy, and hope to see you there next year!
WBGO Dispatches from South Africa
The Checkout In South Africa
Audio Features For WBGO News
© 2015 WBGO
April 15, 2015. Posted by Simon Rentner.
Our amazing WBGO travel experience to South Africa ends with an exclamation point: The 16th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival!
Thanks to our travel expert, Hema Shah from Immersion Journeys, Rhonda Hamilton, 25 WBGO members and I spent the first part of our trip truly immersed in the Rainbow Nation’s heritage, wildlife, history, communities of Johannesburg and Soweto – and even got to play golf!
After this we dove headfirst into South Africa's vibrant jazz scene. The Cape Town International Jazz Fest featured more than forty concerts over two days on five stages, exhibitions, master classes, and even a fashion show.
Most of these concerts were held at Cape Town’s convention center, which stands up to any state-of-the-art theater anywhere in the world. It is well worthy of hosting a world-class jazz festival.
In his news features for the WBGO Journal, Giovanni Russonello explains this year’s fest emphasized South Africa’s domestic jazz talent - such as emerging Cape jazz drummer Claude Cozens, and bassists Benjamin Jephta and Carlo Mombelli.
Russonello also had a conversation with Cozens for The Checkout – don’t miss it. They talk about Abdullah Ibrahim, the so-called “Goema” Cape Jazz sound, and the young drummer’s modern take on that music with his trio’s new CD, Jubilee Jam.
In addition to these newcomers, South Africa’s musical legends are here too. I felt lucky to hear in concert and also interview the man who is perhaps Africa’s most important living jazz player: trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
It cannot be overstated how much of a gift is to see and hear Hugh play on his home turf, in front of ten thousand squealing fans humming along to every song.
“It’s akin to seeing Shakespeare performed by the Royal Shakespeare company,” says Dean Irby, an actor and WBGO member who traveled with our group. “Seeing the master actors perform in front of the people the play was written for.”
In my conversation with Masekela for The Checkout, we take a time warp back to 1965, the year that made him a star.
That year, Masekela recorded his career-making album The Americanization of the Ooga Booga, while in exile in New York City. He says that experience brought his music into the mainstream.
In 1965, he also launched his own boutique record label, Chisa! That venture helped the trumpeter find his unique voice that combined jazz with the sounds of his homeland.
Another high point for me was hearing the contemporary jazz/hip-hop group led by the talented singer Melanie Scholtz alongside rapper Jitzvinger.
Scholtz, a Cape Town-bred singer and songwriter, won the 2010 Standard Bank Young Artist jazz prize. Her popularity in Europe has been growing steadily; she plans to move to Prague soon. She will be featured on The Checkout in May.
Last, and definitely not least, for me, was Thundercat, aka Stephen Bruner! HooooooO!
This elusive bassist, singer-songwriter and producer is one of my personal creative heroes; I’ve tried to get him on The Checkout for years. I was thrilled to spend an hour talking with him at the Cape Sun Hotel.
Thundercat not only creates his own brilliant music, but he is constantly busy, working with some of today’s cutting-edge mainstream musicians, such as Kimbra and Kendrick Lamar.
We talked about those artists and many others in his Los Angeles creative sphere: Eric Andre, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, and the late Austin Peralta.
What more can I say about my experience at the Cape Town International Jazz Fest? Only that I can’t wait to go back!
© 2015 WBGO