Alhassan Andani, Managing Director of Stanbic Bank has said the bank’s dream is to see the Stanbic Jazz Festival become a global phenomenon and rub shoulders with the New Orleans, Montreal and Cape Town Jazz festivals.
“We want to bring all these people who make the New Orleans, Montreal and Cape Town Jazz festivals great to help tell a different story about Africa. We are quite optimistic about the festival becoming bigger than what it is now and having multiple stages in five years with several artistes lined up and serving distinct sounds to specific audiences.
At the moment we have to go and find a date in the busy schedules of these great stars but we are moving to a point where these Jazz greats will rather be finding space in our calendar.
Why can’t there be players in Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi during the festival thrilling audiences? Why can’t we have speciality groups enjoy their kind of Jazz? Apart from the generic town hall Jazz, we need to break it up into various interest groups so that people can enjoy their passion,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of the 2017 edition of the festival, a musical journey that began in 2014 and brings world class quality jazz concerts to serenade jazz lovers in Ghana, Mr. Andani hope is to see that the festival becomes a focal point for people wanting to come into Ghana every year.
The 2017 Stanbic Jazz Festival, which is under the theme ‘Sax and Strings on Cruise’, will host American Jazz legend Gerald Albright and Cameroonian born sensation Richard Bona. The three day event is scheduled to come off on November 1, to 3, at the Accra International Conference Centre.
Gerald Albright is one of the biggest contemporary and straight-ahead jazz musicians who has earned his reputation as a “musician’s musician.” Born in Los Angeles, he began piano lessons at an early age. Albright’s love of music picked up considerably when he was given a saxophone that belonged to his piano teacher. By the time he enrolled at the University of Redlands, he was already a polished saxophonist.
Richard Bona, is no stranger to jazz lovers in Ghana, having headlined a number of jazz events in Ghana. Bona is a jazz bassist who has played and performed with jazz greats such as Joe Zawinul, Regina Carter, and Bob James. Bona also had a two-year stint with the great Harry Belafonte as his musical director.
Fifteen Ghanaian acts led by Aka Blay and the Abiza Band will be part of the show. Others will include Steve Bedi, the AyisahDey duo, Licks and Riffs, PaaKow, Adoma and Stephanie Benson.
Mr. Andani added that jazz music with its long history in Ghana, is loved by many people in the country and the Stanbic Jazz Festival provides a platform for both local and global icons to meet and musically interact with each other.
“We are a local bank with global links and we believe that getting the chance to play with legends would make for the cross fusion of ideas between our indigenous and foreign artists to make them greater acts, thereby enhancing the global nature of the event,” he said.
Why two major acts?
Mawuko Afadzinu, Head of Marketing and Communications at the bank, noted that typically the festival would have one major act but this year is unique.
“You will see that every year the line up of artistes that want to come and participate in this is growing and also the demand of Jazz enthusiasts in the country is growing and want to see the very best of artistes is growing,” he added.
He explained that the stories coming out of Africa are not pleasant ones and so Stanbic wants to use the festival to tell pleasant stories about Africa.
Mr. Andani noted that one of the underpinning factors of hosting the show every year is to drive tourism business to Ghana.
“We are an island of peace in a relatively troubled region and businessmen and women in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Burkina Faso would want to just come spend a weekend of really good Jazz. Maybe they have heard about it but haven’t experienced it and they are so close so we believe we can attract them,” he said.
As part of Stanbic’s support for worthy courses, this year’s event is in aid of the fight against malaria and part of the ticket proceeds shall be used to support the Infanta Foundation.
By Bernard Yaw Ashiadey | thebftonline.com | Ghana