It never gets better than when people come together for a good cause; especially when that good cause involves making the world a better place for children. This Sunday, people came together amidst great music and tons of fun to celebrate the International Jazz Day with pomp and color. All gate proceeds of the event went to the Ghetto Classics program, a music academy for disadvantages kids from the informal settlements of Korogocho, Huruma, Dandora and Mukuru kwa Reuben; like I said for the kids.

This was the first big concert in recent times with an all Kenyan jazz line-up, where there was no international act headlining. To be completely honest, this was what made it special. The set up at the carnivore grounds was not as extravagant as we are used to, but the quaintness of it added a touch of community that sometimes lacks in big venues; It felt a lot more close knit if I may say so myself.

Before the concert, there were the usual doubters who did not think that the all Kenyan ensemble would deliver and to be honest, even though I am a huge believer in having faith in our own, I was a bit skeptical. I am glad to report that they proved me wrong. Everyone on the line up brought their A-game and the crowd responded. I finally got to see Kavutha on stage actually performing and it was definitely worth the wait. Her scat singing was top notch.

The usual suspects impressed with Eddie Grey and Gogosimo all moving the crowd but people really go on their feet when Edward Parseen got on stage. His playlist included jazz covers to some of the favourite local tracks, including JB’s Tiga Kumute and the popular Kamba song Rose Watwa wa Kisumu by Sammy Wambua. They had an encore where all the artists of the day came together to in spectacular show of expertise and flair.

The highlight of the event for me was the performance by the Ghetto Classics kids. They looked comfortable both on their instruments and on stage. It showed how long they have come from the inception of the project till now. The weekly training and the extra 3 hours every Sunday are working. They had a certain amiable camaraderie on stage that was visible. You could tell that at some point of their performance that they need to do a little more work on some of their music, but overall, it was impressive.

The proceeds from Safaricom Jazz go to furthering the Ghetto Classics agenda. The project is a noble cause and the fact that it impacted on the less privileged community in an admirable manner. The fact that the teachers are former Ghetto Classic kids makes it sustainable. It is definitely one of the reasons I will keep attending the Safaricom Jazz events. That and the excellent music, great fun and meeting new and interesting people.

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