‘Jazztown’ celebrates 20 Years with incredible line up for Standard Bank Jazz Festival Grahamstown

SA’s oldest Jazz festival celebrates landmark anniversary with over 100 jazz innovators from across the world



The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown is celebrating two decades of an incredible jazz festival that for 10 days every year turns Grahamstown into “Jazztown” during the National Arts Festival. Its 20th anniversary edition from 29 June to 8 July this year features over 100 musicians from 12 countries across a diverse range of styles and collaborations.


Included in the line-up are one of the world’s premier multi instrumentalists, the Australian James Morrison Quintet, along with Estafest from the Netherlands, Andy Narrel (US), Judith Sephuma, The Soil, Zinzi Makeba Lee and Africa Mkhize, Yaron Herman & Ziv Ravitz, Jimmy Nevis, Marcus Wyatt’s Bomb Shelter Beast, Shane Cooper, Kyle Shepherd, Thandi Ntuli, Desmond and The Tutus and many others.


Recognised as a catalyst for South African Jazz, this year’s festival showcases artists that have made their name at the festival over the past 20 years whilst also giving a platform to exciting new young players – amongst them sensational Brazilian bassist Michael Pipoquinha, who at the age of 21 is receiving critical acclaim worldwide.


Arguably the musicians’ favourite festival, the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown is known for its ambitious collaborations across styles, continents and generations and manages to attract serious musicians year after year to a small magical corner of South Africa.  


For 10 days, the DSG campus – “Jazztown” - and the Monument are jam-packed with performances which continue long after the lights have gone down, where the performances move to the Standard Bank Jazz Café in downtown Grahamstown where the musicians hang out for some serious spontaneous improvisation. 


The festival is probably South Africa’s best-kept jazz secret and the launch pad for South Africa’s next generation of jazz stars.  It is here that the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz makes their big debut performance.  This year’s winner, bassist Benjamin Jephta, will be following in the footsteps of successful alumni that include Gloria Bosman, Victor Ntoni, Sibongile Khumalo, Siya Makuzeni, Kesivan Naidoo, Melanie Scholtz, Kyle Shepherd, Bokani Dyer and many more.


“If you’re serious about music and jazz, and want an experience that will live with you for a lifetime then put it on your bucket list and come to Jazztown this year,” says Hazel Chimhandamba, Head: Group Sponsorships for Standard Bank who have supported the festival for 20 years.

Move fast and book your accommodation and travel early as thousands of South Africans descend annually upon Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival and Standard Bank Jazz Festival. Main box office for tickets opens early May. For more information on where to stay in Grahamstown and surrounds, and to book tickets visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za.

Stay informed of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival by connecting with Standard Bank Arts on


Image: Kyle Shepherd at the Piano





Notes to editors:



The Standard Bank Jazz Festival is presented with support funding from Concerts Norway; Concerts South Africa; Paul Bothner Music; ProHelvetia Johannesburg; The Royal Netherlands Embassy; SAMRO; Spedidam; Swedish Arts Council; Swedish Jazz Federation; Mary Lou Meese Youth Jazz Fund and the Swiss Arts Council.


The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown is produced by Eastern Cape Jazz Promotions.


*Jazztown is what the Standard Bank Grahamstown Jazz Festival is colloquially known as; with hundreds of musicians, students and fans descending on the DSG campus for 10 days of incredible jazz performances.


The arts in Africa are a powerful expression of our creativity and play an integral part in generating a positive narrative with a global impact. It’s upon this narrative that Standard Bank has established its mandate - supporting a wide range of initiatives to both nurture young talent and showcase the rich diversity of our creative arts. Standard Bank’s commitment to investing across the arts spectrum on the continent represents a 30-year plus legacy and we are proud to provide on-going support for a variety of key projects, which have evolved into highlights across the South African and African cultural calendar.


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About National Arts Festival

The National Arts Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent.

The 2017 National Arts Festival runs for 11 days from 29 June - 9 July and is held in the small university city of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, 130 km from Port Elizabeth.

The Festival consists of a Main and Fringe programme both administered by the National Arts Festival Office. The full programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, tours (of the city and surrounding historic places) and a children’s arts festival.

The event has always been open to all regardless of race, colour, sex or creed. As no censorship or artistic restraint has ever been imposed on works presented in Grahamstown, the Festival served as an important forum for political and protest theatre during the height of the apartheid era, and it still offers an opportunity for experimentation across the arts spectrum. Its significance as a forum for new ideas and an indicator of future trends in the arts cannot be underestimated.

The National Arts Festival is grateful to the Department of Arts and Culture, Eastern Cape Provincial Government, M-Net and Standard Bank of South Africa.

National Arts Festival
National Arts Festival
PO Box 304
Grahamstown, Ec 6140
South Africa