You imagine you’ve been to a concert in Kampala till you experience Nile Gold Jazz Safari.
There is nothing as musically refreshing as listening to music live and flawless. There have been six editions of the Jazz Safari till 2014. Together with Black Roots Unlimited, British Airways, Rwenzori Mineral Water and Serena, Nile Breweries Limited hosted the 7th edition at the Kampala Serena Hotel. As a means of giving back to the society, Nile Gold in conjunction with Uganda Rotary Cancer Program were to contribute proceeds from the event to the construction of the Maureen Mugoya Cancer Ward in Nsambya Hospital.
One thing is true about Ugandans; we love to dress up for events. This event was no different especially for the ladies. There was every thing, from long flowing gowns to very short mini dresses wrapped around all sizes and shades of brown: slender to round. Apart from shiny necklaces and earrings, many walked in, palms were filled with 5.5 inch screen gadgets. People were coming in from around 7, and although the lines were long, they were organised, fitting for an event at the Serena.
At 7:49pm, the VIP doors were opened and the gentlemen and ladies were ushered to their tables. About twenty minutes passed till Isaac Rucci, the event’s MC came on to start off the event. Two Ugandan acts were privileged with kicking off the event – Michael Kitanda on sax and Charmant on his guitar. The two seemed to enjoy the minutes they got on the 3-D looking stage.
At 8:30pm, Lao Tizer and his band , Tizer, came on. It comprises Saxophonist Steve Nieves, Drummer Raul Pineda, Guitarist Chieli Minucci from Jazz Fusion group (SFX) Special EFX, Bassist Andre Manga. Nothing prepared me for what was about to happen. To say the sound was good, is an understatement. It was excellent! Every string, every chord on keyboard, every sound on the sax, was especially audible. Not in an inconvenient destructive and loud way, but rather in a “creeping up your spine and giving you goosebumps” way. This was enjoyable music.
When Norman Brown went onto the stage an hour later, I wondered how much better the concert would get! There is something about Grammy Award Winners! It was evident when he was on stage. He knew how to engage the crowd; like a lover teasing his girl but giving her just enough for her to ask for more. His guitar skills are eons better than any I have heard in Uganda. He is one with his guitar. He isn’t shy about her. When they do music it, it is blazing! His last song – a rendition of Janet Jackson’s “That’s the way love goes” excited revelers who before that simply enjoyed the music and had little clue about the songs done.
After another hour, it was time for Joe to grace the stage. There was a 30 minute delay between the time Norman Brown went off due to some technical issues but when they were solved, the R’n’B crooner came on – the smartest man that evening, in a black tux.
Joe performed many of his chart hitting songs including, “Stutter”, “All the things”, “If I was your man” and the favourite of many “I wanna know”. Many ladies in the crowd couldn’t keep sitting when he came on and stood the entire time he sang. In a semi-live arrangement, due to the fact that he had no back up singers, he still managed to display his vocal prowess. All the high notes were hit, even the falsettos, Joe hasn’t lost any of it. The moment when he strummed the guitar left many lasses swooning for this 41 year old singer.
At the end of the concert, I realised that many Ugandan artists hold back in their music. The three acts on this stage did not. They gave everything they had. Closest I have heard this energy is in Chameleon. Looking forward to an 8th edition of Nile Jazz Safari because music doesn’t come as good as this anywhere else.