By Desire Mtawali
Lilongwe Jazz Festival launched Jazz music has never been given the limelight in the country despite being a rich genre which has given musician a chance to show the best of their skills in terms of both vocals and instrumentation.
It is in this vein that a group of artists with a strong interest in jazz have come out to create the Lilongwe Jazz Festival, which will be taking place annually. The team—which includes Erik Paliani, Dan Sibale and veteran jazz musician Owen Mbilizi launched the festival on Friday at Lilongwe Golf Club.
The jazz festival will debut this year at Lilongwe Golf Club from August 31 to September 1. “Our vision is to provide an enduring annual event that provides the community with a platform to celebrate and enrich culture through jazz music,” Paliani, who has starred with big name acts such as the late Hugh Masekela, said.
Having sparked Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre recently where he performed with JJ Munthali and Lyton Chisuse, Paliani said their mission is to create meaningful connections between cultures, community groups, artists and audiences by offering music-related events, programmes and an annual festival,” the ‘Chitukutuku’, star said. He said the Lilongwe Jazz Festival is a registered organization incorporated under Malawi company laws. He said the festival will include corporate social responsibility events and training of young and upcoming jazz artists and accord them a platform to show their talent, improve their skills and interact with local and global jazz performers. “You may be asking as to why jazz? Jazz is an accumulation of many cultures and backgrounds.
It is a mixture of many music styles. And again jazz unites people and cultures from different geographical locations,” the singer and guitarist said. The inaugural festival will bring 15 acts from Blantyre, Lilongwe and Karonga. Paliani, who has also set up a studio in Mchinji focusing on jazz music, said the nomination and selection process involved critical audit ions with a professional music director. “There are bands and individual performers in vocal, guitars, saxophone and piano maestros and solid bands offering different genres of jazz from traditional, jazz funk, smooth jazz, ethno and afro jazz,” Paliani, who is part of the lineup, said.
The other acts set to perform at the festival are saxophone player Sibale, veteran player Mbilizi, Lulu, Waliko Makhala, TJ and Spare Fingers and Lusubilo Band. “There will be a lot and we are doing this because of the love and passion we have for jazz and we believe this is the beginning of more good things to come,” he said.
Paliani said they are working with Lilongwe City Assembly and the Department of Tourism for them to put this annual event on the city’s calendar.