Saturday the 5th of November finally came and went and we got to troop to Uhuru Gardens in the evening for Safaricom Jazz Lounge featuring Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca and Malian Fatoumata Diawara. One would think that the unfamiliarity of the artists would deter people from coming for the show but wrong. The place was as packed as has become the thing with Safaricom Jazz concerts.
The show was was everything I expected and more. It was kicked off on a dancing note by Kenyan band Shamsi music who got people on their feet before they could even settle into their seats!
There is music that demands that you sit/stand and watch in awe and such was Roberto Fonseca’s piano pieces. He played piano so effortlessly and threw in theatrics here and there to spice up his performance. Roberto was joined by his equally talented band members, Ramses Rodriguez on the drums, Yandy Martinez on bass and Adel Gonzales on percussion.
Then came Fatoumata Diawara. She started on a rather sombre note but by around mid-performance she upped her tempo, let go of her head scarf, let her dreadlocked hair down and took off her jacket. She transformed into full dance mode and the woman can dance! With her infectious smile and equally infections dance, she had the audience up in minutes.
She explained every song before starting and it was clear that her songs are geared towards specific courses in life and especially in Africa. For example, she dedicated one to Nelson Mandela and another to the women of Africa who crave freedom. She wants us to be “free like a bird”
Like Hugh Masekala last August, she’s passionate about the unity and empowerment of Africa and is pained that people are leaving Africa for better lands. She wishes that African Governments could make their countries good enough for their people to thrive in.
At the very end of the performance the pair worked the crowd into singing along to parts of Bibisa and that was a fun close to the show. Then the whole group took a final bow and left a totally sated audience. Look at Fatou’s hair!
The event was well organized with enough seating and enough food and drink vendors. The drink vendors were roaming through the isles so people did not have to leave their seats or miss performances to go look for them. Security was top notch.
It is good that the show was on a Saturday evening. In February this year it was held on a Sunday afternoon in Kasarani and some time was lost somewhere so that night came before it was over. People got restless and started leaving the venue. Unfortunately, this was the time that the star of the evening Branson Marsalis was taking the stage and he performed to a restless crowd. It is easy to understand why. It was a family show and people had come with their children. To be in Kasarani late with kids who were going to school the next day is not something any parent would want.
In conclusion, I can’t help but appreciate the consistency of the Jazz Festival and how many jazz artists it has exposed me to since I started attending. I’ve told of my Safaricom Jazz journey so far here.
More photos from the event