Standard Bank Jazz Festival Grahamstown 2014

Carla Stokes, Rachel Suttle and Georgia Bailey attended this year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival
in Grahamstown from the 2nd to the 7th July and it was “an experience of a life time”. Every day was packed full with various workshops, performances, auditions and practices; so it was impossible to find oneself alone or unoccupied. The girls stayed on the DSG Campus and were chaperoned by Carla Stokes’ parents.

Each morning began with a delicious breakfast followed by 2 workshop sessions, which were about an hour long. In each workshop session, there was a list of different electives to attend, as well as internal performance or band practices. Unfortunately, not all of the workshops were repeated in another session and it was therefore impossible to go to each one that caught our attention. The morning sessions were closely followed by lunch, and then by another 2 workshops and a series of performances. After dinner, improvisation sessions and larger performances would take place and continue late into the night, with the curfew being 12:30 for all school students staying on Campus.

As each day held numerous possibilities to grow as musicians, we found ourselves immersed in the world of jazz. No matter where you were, you could always hear a trumpeter warming up or an improvisation session in progress. Some of the highlights of the tour were the workshops taken by Terrence Scarr (Rondebosch High school) concerning jazz harmony and Professor Mike Rossi (UCT) concerning the saxophone, as well as having the incredible experience of watching Melanie Scholtz (vocalist), Dimos Dimitriadis (a Greek saxophonist) and the UCT Big Band conducted by Professor Mike Campbell perform. It was also amazing getting to socialise with so many talented and professional musicians around Campus and just learning from them.

Rachel Suttle and Georgia Bailey took part in the Jazz choir, which was made up of all the school vocal students who auditioned for the National School’s Big Band. They had one performance on the last evening in which they sang a traditional jazz Zulu tune and popular jazz standard “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. Carla Stokes performed with one the mixed ability bands, which is made up of all instrumentalists who are taking part in the festival workshops. Her conductor was Shaun Johannes and they performed twice.

The Grahamstown Jazz festival was certainly one for the books, so many new skills were learnt and many new friends were made. An incredible time was had by all, chaperones included! It was a perfect way to start the June/July holidays.