BY ERNEST TUAPE
(Craft It’s new foreign correspondent in Kampala)
#1. The Headliner
I call up my friend Sue who’s a jazz enthusiast. Her background is screaming with loud chatter and kadongo kamu music, the kind played at a malwa joint. I wonder if she’s on a date at a kafunda.
So I tell her, “Sue, Richard Bona is coming to town.”
“I can’t hear you,” she says.
I hear the whoosh sound of the wind as she runs across the road to catch some silence.
“Did you say you have a boner?”
Richard Bona is an award winning jazz bassist. He’ll headline the Jazz Safari festival in June.
The neon lights outside Club Guvnor led me to a red carpet, which ushered me to the security point. I walked through the body scanner. A man in a fitting jacket looked at me and nodded.
He wasn’t sure whether I was an 18 or 10 year old kid. (A chic called Jennifer distracted me. She typed that line.)
I got in.
With three sitting arenas, a controlled ambience, a happy mixologist, sturdy stage, four LED displays, and a bottle of Castle Lite, there’s no better place for an evening of soothing live jazz music than at Guvnor.
#3. Music Maniac
Kas Kasozi makes passionate love to his guitar. He’s a sweet musical beast who carries you on his back as he struts along the fret board.
He rides the guitar like a bike, drives it like a BMW. Kas turns those six strings into a songbird. He makes it anything; a roaring lion, a buzzing bee, a crying baby. Even a creaking boda boda.
His performance feels like watching the ranges of the mountains in Kisoro. Stunning and deserving of a standing ovation always.
Kas will be the opening act for Richard Bona at the Jazz safari.
#4. Saxophone Baby
Michael Kitanda plays his saxophone with eyes closed, as though he’s in a state of prayer, summoning the gods of the horns to take charge.
He’s a veterinary doctor in love with his sax.
The blue rays of light are reflecting on his sax. He’s blowing to the cover of Luther Vandross ‘So amazing’. His cheeks are expanding and contracting.
The couple in front of me gets up to slow dance. That’s when I wished I came with a date. I’ll make sure to bring one in June.
Michael Kitanda is the baby of the Jazz Safari.
#5. Shaka – Pragmo
Shaka, the bassist and Pragmo, the pianist, are a partnership that has churned out some of the best jazz-funk in Uganda. Together, they are Blackroots Unlimited.
Shaka, with dreadlocks and a thick beard sits with his darling of a bass guitar on his laps. He strokes it with the passion of a Rasta man.
Pragmo never plays his piano without a hat on. What does his head look like? His improvisations are from the moon to Mars. They get you on your feet and have you clapping in a second.
These are constants at the Jazz Safari.
Follow Tuape on Instagram: Ernest Tuape