Jazz legends take to the 2020 Cape Town International Jazz Festival stage

Africa’s Grandest Gathering will provide the stage for some of the greatest names in jazz, including Judith Sephuma, the UK’s KOKOROKO and Ezra Collective, Manou Gallo from Côte d’Ivoire, Earl Sweatshirt and Joel Ross from the USA, and Cape Town’s Sounds of Brass. They will perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF), which will take place on 27 and 28 March 2020 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

In celebration of 21 years of South Africa’s most well-loved festival, event organisers espAfrika have announcement the final list of artists who will make up the 2020 Festival’s stellar line up. 

Over the last two decades, the CTIJF has brought some of the greatest names in jazz and jazz-related music to the Mother City, with 2 649 musicians taking to the festival stage.

The following artists will take to the CTIJF 2020 stage:

  • Bombshell Beast (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Earl Sweatshirt (USA)
  • Ezra Collective (UNITED KINGDOM)
  • Grassy Spark (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Joel Ross (USA)
  • Johan Lass (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Jonas Gwangwa Tribute (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Judith Sephuma (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Kuaetnika (INDONESIA)
  • Manou Gallo (CÔTE D’IVOIRE)
  • Sounds of Brass (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • The Unity Band (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • Saudiq Khan (SOUTH AFRICA)

“For 20 years, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has brought some of the world’s greatest musicians to our shores. As we celebrate our 21st year of the Festival, Festinos can look forward to yet another unforgettable line-up of some of the greatest names in jazz.” 

Billy Domingo, CTIJF Festival Director

Multi-award winning artist Judith Sephuma has continued to dominate airwaves for close to two decades.  Since the release of her triple platinum-status debut album titled A Cry, A Smile, A Dance in 2001, Judith has attracted interest and acclaim from Jazz, Afro-soul and Gospel music lovers all over the world. Sephuma has worked with and shared the stage with international artists like Bebe Winans, Oletta Adams, Jonathan Butler, Al Jarreau, Randy Crawford and Chaka Khan. Her eighth album, titled Power of Dreams, was launched last year. She has performed at some of the greatest jazz festivals around the world.

All-star band KOKOROKO, formed in 2014, features leading lights from the London jazz community: led by Sheila Maurice-Grey (Trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (Saxophone); Richie Seivwright (Trombone); Tobi Adenaike (Guitar), Yohan Kebede (Keys), Mutale Chashi (Bass), Onome Edgeworth (Percussion) and Ayo Salawu (Drums). Embodying experimental rhythms and sounds from West Africa, the band is named after the Urhobo – a Nigerian tribe and language – the word meaning ‘be strong’. Drawing on the high energy of Afrobeat and Highlife nights, the musical influences of Jazz, Funk and many other genre's, the band’s own written music is shaped by the sounds of their home city, London.

Manou Gallo, born in 1972 in Ivory Coast, is a virtuoso and her unique talent is rich with the heritage of her origin of the Djiboi tribe. She plays the tambour (percussion drums) which is normally only reserved and allowed for men in the Ivorian culture. When she discovered the bass guitar, she brough this knowledge with her, transforming it into a percussion instrument. The award-winning bassist joined world music band Zap Mama and moved to Belgium in 2003. She has collaborated with the likes of Manu Dibango, Mamady Keita, Wyclef Jean, Marcus Miller and Lucas van Meerwijk.

Ezra Collective’s sound is rooted in classic jazz but features strong influences from Afrobeat and Hip Hop to create a sound that speaks to their home of London. Consisting of Femi Koleoso (Drums), TJ Koleoso (Bass), Joe Armon Jones (Keys), Dylan Jones (Trumpet) and James Mollison (Saxophone), Ezra Collective released their first EP, “Chapter 7” in 2016 and was awarded Best Jazz Album at the Worldwide Awards in 2018 for their second EP, “The Philosopher”. Dubbed as “pioneering a new wave of UK jazz”, this five-piece band released their full-length debut in 2019 and has collaborated with the likes of Loyle Carner, Jorja Smith, and KOKOROKO.

American rapper Earl Sweatshirt (Thebe Neruda Kgositsile), who recently released his EP Feet of Clay, uses his music to untap deeper issues such as depression and loss, through the poetic talent inherited from his father, Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgositsile. After releasing his debut mixtape, Earl, in 2010 at the age of 16, the teen took a two-year gap in music creation while at a boarding school. When he returned home, and to the music team, he re-joined alternative hip hop collective Odd Future, with whom he had started working in 2009 along with Taylor, the Creator. He has since released another two albums alongside his EP.

Joel Ross, the most thrilling new vibraphonist in America, grew up in a quiet Chicago South Side neighbourhood, where he began playing drums at church from a young age. He and his twin brother progressed to school and multi-school bands, where Ross took up xylophone and later on vibraphone. Following training with the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet at University of the Pacific, Ross went on to create bands ranging from quartets to large ensembles. The Brooklyn-based player and composer has worked with artists such as Makaya McCraven, Walter Smith III, Matthew Stevens, Marquis Hill, Peter Evans and James Francies. He joined Blue Note Records in 2019.

Sounds of Brass is a collaboration between some of South Africa’s most talented brass instrumentalists, in which musicians are respectful of the past yet unafraid to push boundaries. Trumpet player/composer Marcus Wyatt brings almost 30 years of experience to the stage, and has played with the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, John Faddis and Steve Turre. He is joined by saxophonist and 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz Sisonke Xonti. Bringing his years of expertise to the band is saxophonist Don Vino, who is the resident saxophonist of Johnathan Butler’s band. Georgia Jones, an alto and baritone saxophonist, and Byron Abrahams, saxophonist and singer, complete the band’s complement.

“These unforgettable acts will join some of the best local and international music icons, including Grammy award winners PJ Morton from the USA and Jacob Collier from the UK, Cape Town’s own Jonathan Butler – with special guest Candy Dulfer from the Netherlands, Kwetu Trio featuring Aaron Rimbui, Herbie Tsoaeli and Ayanda Sikade, songstress Lira, jazz master Mandisi Dyantyis, MF Robots from the UK and South Africa’s Nduduzo Makhathini,” says Domingo.

Come and experience this once-in-a-lifetime jazz spectacular. General access tickets for the 2020 festival are available at Computicket at R999 for a Weekend Pass and R649 for a Day Pass: http://bit.ly/34URyrw.


CTIJF 2020 award-winning VIP hospitality packages are on sale now, with two-day festival experiences starting from R2 999 ex VAT. Contact Samantha Pienaar on 021 671 0506 or email hospitality@espafrika.com. Alternatively visit www.capetownjazzfest.com/hospitality for more information.

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About Cape Town International Jazz Festival

About the Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) is the flagship event for the leading events management and production company espAfrika, which has staged and produced several world-renowned events. Affectionately referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering”, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa and is now preparing for its 21st year. The annual event will take place on 27 and 28 March 2020 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

The festival is renowned for delivering a star-studded line up featuring international and local artists in both jazz and popular music genres. The festival boasts multiple stages with a wide array of world-class artists performing over two nights.

Producers of the festival, espAfrika has recently been awarded the title of Best Event Production & Management Company in South Africa, in the 4th annual Global Hospitality Awards hosted by LUX Life. As an event management and production organisation, espAfrika has over 20 years of expertise in bringing the best musical talent to Cape Town.

The CTIJF Sustainable Training & Development programme aims to educate and upskill the youth, offering them learning experiences that tap into the knowledge of the world’s premier musicians and fostering the next generation of jazz talent.

The official sponsors of the 21st annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival are Independent Media, AYO Technologies Solutions, The Department of Arts and Culture, Host City – The City of Cape Town, Engen, Scottish Leader, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, SAB AB-INBEV, Raymond Weil and Heart 104.9FM.

About espAfrika

espAfrika is a global leader in creating and producing unique entertaining experiences. With more than 20 years in the industry, the company has grown into one of the most highly awarded event management and production organisations in South Africa. espAfrika thrives on realising clients’ ideas and creating exceptional concepts that are relevant and engaging to today’s audiences.

espAfrika produces annual events such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival which attracts Festinos from around the world. Soon to be announced are new and unique entertainment experiences courtesy of espAfrika.

espAfrika has been awarded the 2019 title of Best Event Production & Management Company in South Africa, in the 4th annual Global Hospitality Awards hosted by LUX Life.

See www.espafrika.com for more details.