Safaricom Jazz Festival Experience 2017


David Sanborn

Safaricom Jazz Festival took place on Sunday at the Training Grounds of Kasarani Safaricom Stadium. Thousands of jazz enthusiasts filled up the stadium to witness the best and biggest jazz festival of all time. You could actually feel the energy from a mile away;

there was tight security checks at all gate points, colored umbrella decorations at the ticketing area, mini-shuttles, little cab and buses transporting people from one gate to the other, and lovely sunny weather to set the pace for a great afternoon.

People came out in their best outfits to enjoy the event,and there was lots of activities for the whole family, like photo booths with props for fun photographs,safaricom activation centre, horse and camel rides,trampolines, jumping castles, water balloons for peddling in, exhibitions with African attire and fabrics for sale, carved out monuments to dazzle over, a coloring and face painting area with instruments to play, special offers and giveaways from all the sponsors and partners like Showmax had an app to download movies from your android phones and watch for free before midnite that day, travel packages from KLM. Safaricom for one had lots of giveaways in terms of tablets, iphones, airtime, free 1500Mbs worth of data bundles, 4G sim cards, umbrellas, t-shirts, caps and key holders, mobile bar vouchers(two non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks of choice).

Food was in plenty from various vendors like Carnivore Restaurant and there were lounge seats all over the venue, especially at the Hotel Intercontinental VVIP area that had a red carpet walkway,and an executive kind of setup for all their senior clientele. The Belgian Embassy and Israeli Embassy took their marketing strategy to greater heights,by educating people through quizzes and rewarding all their clients about their rich cultures accompanied with souvenirs to remember the event as they sampled their finest wines, chocolates, skin care products, services and other delicacies. The British Council also sensitized people about what they do in terms of promoting the arts and entertainment industry,by serving people with huge flavoured muffins and mocktails as a token of appreciation.

They were also promoting the East Africa School of Arts that focuses on building talent in Africa by giving back to the society and several charities. There was a special seating area for people with disabilities and a few albinos came through to support the charity event. Ghetto classics performed really well with a live orchestra, Shamsi and Nairobi Horns Projects brought the house down with their infectious jazz renditions of famous Kenyan tunes,which took the crowd into a frenzy screaming and shouting for more as they danced along.

The Hazelnuts were an interesting bunch to watch, as their harmonies were just so angelic fusing that motown swing jazz vibe with pop and R&B, especially when they did their own rendition of ‘Put a Ring On It’ originally by Beyonce Knowles…it almost sounded like a newer version of Destiny’s Child,which got them a standing ovation from the audience. The other groups did very well and all brought their A-game to the stage including Taxi Wars who fused rock, pop and jazz in an electrifying way.

The man of the moment was David Sanborn who despite not having good health,kicked off his two hour set with tunes from his first album all the way to his latest album. One could see the love Kenyans have for him and his band comprised of  a bongo drums player, a bass and electric guitar player, keyboardist and drummer. Some loyal fans even screamed and sang to every single one if his songs,holding his album ‘Close Up’ to their chests. He was extremely overwhelmed and ecstatic about all the support he received,thanking the sponsors for putting this marvellous event together and for Hotel Intercontinental for their hospitality.

Special guests in attendance were Ian Mbugua,Gogosimo,Samia, Chris Bittok, Rabai, Dorothy Nyongo, Lucia Musau, Big Ted, Jambi Koikai aka Fyah Mummah, Chris Adwar, Juliani and his girlfriend-Brenda Wairimu with their adorable daughter, Sir Henry and his lovely Wife-Aisha, David Muriithi aka Deejay D-lite. We look forward to the next festival and remember to keep supporting the jazz industry in Africa. Let us grow together musically!

Thank you for reading!


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