Nile Gold Jazz Safari 2014: Uganda’s Apex of Live Music
Rumor has it that a week to 7th Annual Nile Gold Jazz Safari held on October 3rd, 2014, all tickets were completely sold out. The odds of buying a last minute ticket at the entrance were slim to none and one had to pity the guy whose plan was to be the last one on the ship. As if to further reiterate the reverence of the event, the traffic in Kololo decided to conspire against all the late comers and all roads leading to the Kampala Serena were painted in the shade of bumper to bumper.
Thankfully, the necessary evil that is the boda boda got me to the gate right in time. It wasn’t surprising that the auditorium was already full by 7pm. You were lucky to find a seat or even standing space, and getting the many beautifully clad six inch heeled creatures to scoot over was a laughable fantasy.
For the first two hours, the cocktail hour was at a high since the deal was that for each ticket purchased one got 3 drink coupons. You could have water or beer. With the Nile Gold and Reds Vodka Lemon flowing in plenty from every corner, by the time the show started let’s just say everyone was in a much livelier mood than when they got in.
See the Official Trailer of the Discover Uganda TV Show here.
The lineup of talented and prolific musicians started with Michael Kitanda our very own home grown Saxophonist. He eagerly hit the stage and seduced the audience with a few tracks from his debut album ‘Saxfaction‘.
Soon after that, the Tizer band literally exploded onto the stage. Keyboardist, composer Lao Tizer and his world/fusion band were relentless in their display of musical manipulation. With an expert mix of rock, classical, Afro Cuban and contemporary jazz rhythms, our adrenaline was in hot pursuit of the journey they seemed miles ahead on. Every single performance was punctuated with a thunderous applause from the audience; those of whom had their hands not so full of drink or food at the time. One of their most memorable pieces was the bass solo from Andre Manga. It is not hyperbolic when I tell you that his performance took us to church.
While we were still recovering from Tizer’s madness, Norman Brown jumped on the stage. These guys were determined to make every shilling of that ticket worth it. The Grammy award winner who has been playing guitar since age eight gave a smooth yet ferociously sultry performance. Within minutes of his guitar strings being plucked to his rendition of Janet Jackson’s “That’s the way Love Goes” nearly the entire audience was on their feet seriously grooving to every melody.
After Norman Brown, the anticipation in the audience for the American R&B singer-songwriter Joe was nearly enraging. It didn’t help that it took over half an hour to set up the stage for Joe. The MCs attempts to keep the audience entertained proved futile when a chant begun demanding for Joe.
With all this anticipation, his hype man didn’t have much work to do in amping up the crowd. Joe’s ‘stutter stutter’ exploded through the speakers and his unchanged soulful voice was carried onto the stage by a man who looked dapper in a well fitted black suit. Joe’s graceful grey beard was the only unexpected visitor but everything else was unchanged; from his famous music to his sexy dance moves. The nostalgia overload ignited by his tender soulfulness slayed the audience. He sang all the songs we love from ‘no one else comes close to you’ to ‘what if a woman’ Everyone including the unmovable six inch heeled creatures were persuaded out of their seats to dance even the slightest of moves.
So Thanks to sponsors like British Airways who gave away two business class tickets in the Jazz Safari draw, and to Nile Gold and Jazz Safari, we spent our Friday night on a musical journey that ended after midnight. We were reminded that all of it was for a good cause; with all the proceeds going to the Maureen Mugoya Breast Cancer ward in Nsambya Hospital. Plans for next year’s Jazz Safari were set in place and the teaser of having Gerald Albright in 2015 was whispered aloud.