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Thu Apr 24 15:34:07 SAST 2014

Cape Town jazz fest draws brass, Wind

BIÉNNE HUISMAN and BUYEKEZWA MAKWABE | 26 March, 2011 23:420 Comments
ELEMENTAL: Verdine White and Ralph Johnson from the legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire perform at the Cape Town Jazz Festival Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

South Africa's top political brass rubbed shoulders with Hollywood royalty and local celebrities at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which kicked off on Friday night.

About 34 000 fans descended on the Mother City to groove to the sounds of musicians such as local veteran Blondie Chaplin, Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding and '70s disco icons Earth, Wind&Fire.

Those at the R36-million festival included Hollywood star Denzel Washington, Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe and his wife Bridgette, Hawks chief Anwar Dramat and trumpeter Hugh Masekela.

Spalding mesmerised fans on Rosies Stage yesterday. Last month the jazz bassist and singer beat teenage heart-throb Justin Bieber to take the Best New Artist Grammy award . This week she told journalists that she "loved Cape Town's colourfulness, it's mix of people".

Earth, Wind&Fire front man Philip Bailey, 60, said he was amazed at band's vast following in South Africa.

Adulation at the Cape Town International Convention Centre reached fever pitch when the veterans, who havebagged six Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, played on the Kippies Stage.

"I was speaking to people and they were saying how much our music had meant and how people knew the lyrics, especially in trying times. It was amazing and moving," said Bailey in an interview with the Sunday Times.

Bailey managed to squeeze in a game of golf after arriving in Cape Town from Los Angeles on Thursday.

"I walked 15 holes on the golf course and after that I had a sleep in the cart," he said.

Festival organisers' phones have been ringing off the hook as people beg for tickets.

"We're totally sold out," said Rashid Lombard, the chief executive officer of the event.

On Thursday night Lombard and Billy Domingo - the co-founders of the company behind the festival - toasted their joint 60th birthdays at a party hosted at one of the penthouses at the swanky One & Only Hotel. The penthouse is on the market for R99-million.

Guests were treated to crab cakes, prawns with guacamole, and flutes of Graham Beck sparkling wine .

Washington, who was also present, made a short speech, while the hotel's head pastry chef, Rene Smit, presented the birthday boys with a huge saxophone-shaped cake.

Calvyn Gilfellan, chief executive officer of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, said an economic impact study done by the University of the North West has shown that the event brought R475-million to the Western Cape last year.

"And that was just taking into account accommodation, transport, and food," he said.

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Cape Town jazz fest draws brass, Wind

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