Carlo Mombelli
Carlo Mombelli
Image: Supplied

This Easter Sunday, jazz lovers can look forward to the inaugural Irene Jazz Picnic in Centurion. Billed as a sophisticated and wholesome family affair, the picnic boasts a line-up of leading jazz musicians hosted by the leading voice of jazz radio in the country, Nothemba Madumo.

The Irene Jazz Picnic brings together an imaginatively curated musical offering. Acts include Carlo Mombelli and the Prisoners of Strange, led by visionary bassist and esoteric composer Mombelli, with trumpeter Marcus Wyatt, drummer Justin Badenhorst and Siya Makuzeni on voice and trombone. Mombelli’s Prisoners of Strange have recently reunited after separating nearly 10 years ago to pursue individual careers as solo artists. The reunion has invested the beloved band with new and inspired energy. This has charged casual fans and jazz fundis  alike with anticipation.

There’s the Mthunzi Mvubu Quartet eponymously named after the reedman, Mvubu, backed by one of the most dependable rhythm sections in SA jazz today. Drummer Sphelelo Mazibuko kept time with Dalisu Ndlazi on upright bass and the gifted Afrika Mkhize on piano. Mvubu and the band will be playing music from his debut record, First Gospel, for which he won best male jazz musician at the Mzansi Jazz Awards. Mvubu also promises some musical surprises with new compositions from his experiments that explore fresh combinations of jazz and maskandi music.

Award-winning pianist and composer Thandi Ntuli will be presenting a repertoire of music from her new record and some of her fan favourites. Ntuli’s latest recording is a collaborative treat with Los Angeles based vanguard voice of ambient jazz Carlos Niño for a session that shuffles between atmospheric studio experiments and gorgeously raw solo takes.

Speaking about her performance, Ntuli told Newsroom Afrika that “it feels especially good to be playing in Pretoria. That’s my hometown. I am looking forward to having family and friends coming out to see us perform and enjoy the music. As a city, Pretoria also doesn’t get a lot of events like this, which is funny because it’s such a big jazz city.”

Ntuli’s sentiments were echoed by Mombeli, who can’t wait to perform in the “lush green Irene Country Club because it’s such a beautiful venue with all the green lawns and trees everywhere”.   

The Irene Jazz Picnic promises to be a wholesome music event for sophisticated jazz music lovers, while also offering an easy going family experience. Fans are advised to bring picnic blankets and camp chairs. Food and beverages will be sold at the venue. 

  • The Irene Jazz Picnic takes place on Sunday, March 31 from 10am to 6pm at the Irene Country Club in Centurion. Gates open from 10am till 6pm. Tickets can be bought on at R350 for adults and R100 for children 12 years and younger. 
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