Saturday, 19 May 2012

The 2nd Dar Jazz Event

Hi! I got to do this interview for the mag "Whats Happening in Dar" for the 2nd Dar Jazz event sponsored by the American people through the U.S. Department of State's Arts Envoys Program. The event showcased American jazz musicians Bobby Ricketts, Delmar Brown, and Tony Bunn to Tanzania for the Annual Dar Jazz Event from April 18 - 21. Bobby Ricketts also offered workshops and performances at Triniti, the Alliance Francaise, the Goethe-Institut, and at Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt's residence. In all venues, Bobby Ricketts was joined by aspiring and top Tanzanian musicians, including Tanzanian hip hop (Bongo Flava) artist Fareed Kubanda (Fid Q), a 2010 International Visitors Leadership Program alumnus.

Bobby Ricketts is an American saxophonist from Boston, Massachusetts based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Through numerous artistic collaborations, his reputation has spread throughout Scandinavia, Europe, Japan and the U.S., and Tanzania. Bobby has made multiple trips to Tanzania, holding workshops and performances to inspire and raise the level of local musicianship.

The intimate venues of Alliance Fancaise and Triniti entertained an outstanding crowdfor the Dar Jazz event this April. The concerts featured an all-star hot jazz quad led by internationally renowned saxophonist Bobby Ricketts, which included Delmar Brown(keys), Tony Bunn (bass), and proudly one of Tanzania’s own, Ezekiel Mwanja, on the drums. The quad performed songs that wereuniquely blending urban, jazz & world influences.

Lead Event Designer and founder of French Kiss, Sabrina Millet-Kanabar (SK), shares about this event with Tadzi Madzima (TM) from "What Happening in Dar" magazine.
(French Kiss is an event planning and marketing company/agency based here in Dar.)

TM: Give us a brief history of the Dar Jazz event. What is it and when does it happen?

SK:The Dar Jazz Event is the brainchild of its Creative Director, saxophonist Bobby Ricketts, and is a natural progression of his "Band Doctor Seminars" held at THT. Using a jazz or music festival format as a platform for development, The Dar Jazz Event seeks to create a yearly event allowing the entire music community infrastructure of Dar es Salaam to come together, and benefit from input and mentorship from a team of international music professionals.

TM: Who are the main sponsors?

SK:The 2nd Dar Jazz Event has been supported financially and many other ways by the American People & U.S. Department of States but has also received the support of the Goethe-Institut & Alliance Fancaise who have graciously hosted the 3 days workshop/rehearsals and the TZ Freestyle Jazz Jam concert on Saturday 21st April.

TM: Recently you had your 2nd Dar Jazz event at Alliance Francaise and Triniti. How does the 2nd Dar Jazz Event differ from the 1st one you had?

SK:The 1st Dar Jazz Event has been our first step into the materialization of Bobby's dream, a learning experience reflected in the achievement of the 2nd Dar Jazz Event. The 2nd Dar Jazz Event was a success at many levels.The first and most important one is the workshop, as we had a young up-coming Tanzanian Jazz Band "Wakwetu Jazz Vibes" through the entire program.Each Band member did leave with something to nurture till next year when we meet again. And of course not forgetting the inspiring collaboration between International and Local Artistswhich was a great success to note, such as Ezekiel (drums), Twaba (percussions), Mbeya (hip-hop up-coming talent), Yvonne Mwale & Mzungu Kichaa and their outstanding performances during the shows.

TM: What were the highlights of the 2nd Dar Jazz event?

SK: The highlights of the 2nd Dar Jazz Event was its ability to reach even deeper into the local music community and inspire many more musicians and artists, the huge audience success of presenting a new Bongo Flava/Jazz Fusion - Mzungu Kichaa in particular - and the emergence of young artist Yvonne Mwale.

TM: In comparison, what would you say was the highlight of the 1st?

SK:I think the highlight of the 1st Dar Jazz Event was the discovery of drummer Ezekiel Mwaja, and his intuitive ability to heighten his skills almost daily, in order to be able to perform alongside top international musicians. Also, we discovered that the fusion of Bongo Flava and Jazz is an exciting cocktail.

TM: Which bands performed in the 1st event?

During the 1st event we had Tanzania House of Talent Band, feat. Mataluma & Jessica as opening act and vocalists Barnaba, Amini & Mwasiti performing along with International Artists.

TM: What makes you decide which band should perform that is what qualities will you be looking for? General themes, social commentary and personal sentiments.

The qualities we are looking in a band would be: passion, motivation and dedication.

Bobby Ricketts (sax)
TM: You put together an ensemble of internationally well renowned jazz artists for this event, Bobby Ricketts as the pioneer of the event, with Tony Bunn on bass and Delmar Brown on keys. Have the 3 performed together before?

The 3 musicians named are not a band, and have no history of performing together. What DJE does, is to assemble a team of international artists and music professionals who are able to perform as soloists in their own right, yet function as instructors or mentors during Dar Jazz Event seminars held during the day. The primary goal of The Dar Jazz Event is to provide an instructional, motivational, or inspirational platform for the local music community, thereafter enabling music fans in Dar to benefit for the results of the interaction, not only during the event, but hopefully all year long.

TM: There were some great appearances from young upcoming artists such as Yvonne Mwale, Ezekiel Mwanja (drums), Mzungu Kichaa, Twaba (percussions) and Mbeya (hip-hop up-coming talent). How do these get to be chosen to perform, that is, what is the merit?

SK: During the course of the year, certain artists or musicians are brought to the attention of The DJE Coordination Team, Creative Director Bobby Ricketts, and the incumbent artist team, who endeavor to provide a spotlight opportunity for young talent with global potential.
In our experience, young artists such as Yvonne Mwale, or young Tanzanian drummer Ezekiel Mwaja, are deeply inspired and uplifted after days of interaction with a team of professionals who are accustomed to performing with the top music names globally. One of the results is, the Tanzanian artist becomes highly motivated to do the work necessary to further develop their skills, which in turn increases their odds of meeting the challenge of opportunity. When opportunity knocks, only those with the talent and skill set required will be able to answer and benefit.

TM: Which Tanzanian artists did you promote in your 1st event?
SK:In our 1st DJE we promoted young Tanzanian Talents Barnaba, Amini & Mwasiti - Barnaba & Amini have registered with Bobby a track during the Band Doctor Seminar "Mapenzi"; which appears in his new album "Into Deep". It was the perfect moment to introduce and demonstrate this amazing collaboration.

TM: What are your plans for the future for the Dar Jazz Event? What can people look forward to for the next event?

SK:On the short-term our objective is to strengthen our collaboration with current Local artists we have been working with, continue discovering new talents and create a scholarship program to give a strong ground to these young talents. We also plan to expend our International Musicians Team but also widen our scope of expertise and propose a new workshop program for next year. On the long run we see ourselves as The Dar Jazz Festival, a platform for the convergence of top music artists from Tanzania, the African continent and USA - Homeland of Jazz - upon the city of Dar es Salaam!

TM: What is your message to all those young and aspiring Tanzanians who are jazz inclined and want to be part of this event?

SK:The more, the merrier! Karibuni Sana! We have started working on the next DJE and for those who would like to participate or have an interest in the 3rd DJE program, please inbox us, We will add you into our mailing list and keep you up-dated in due time. Our workshops are also open to Music students, Music lovers and Artists.

TM: What is your message to all your fans and people who love attending the Dar Jazz Event?

SK:Thank you for your continued support but also for making The Dar Jazz Event a success. We look forward having you next year for another mind blowing musical experience!

 Bobby Ricketts and team entertain a great crowd at the Alliance Francaise and Triniti. Check out this array of pictures of the event on The Dar Jazz Event page on facebook and enjoy photos of the amazing performance and this glorious wintertime event in Bongoland, Dar.
Thanks for reading!

Ezekiel Mwanja (drums), Tony Bunn (bassa) & Yvonne Mwale (singer) 

Delma Brown (keys) sings at the event

Friday, 18 May 2012


Its been sometime since I posted in this blog and I had absolutely missed catching up with all of you and especially writing about “a day in the life of a career African driven woman.” And so what has been happening in this career driven african womans life? Well I relocated to Tanzania, am living in Dar es salaam and am working as the Head of Creative and Corporate communications for an agency. I must say that relocating is a big career step and takes a lot out of an individual. And as a mother and a wife, its even more challenging especially for an African woman to make such a decision that moves her away from her usual and comfortable “safe” surroundings. So what gives one the push? And can we say that this is a decision that most african women are having to face especially those who are in pursuit of their careers and are caught in between their commitment to their comfortable environments and actually moving away from that comfort zone into unknown territory in pursuit of career. How many of us are actually willing to take that sort of a risk, of forsaking our friends, family, familiar environment in pursuit of a career we desire? Is it an easy decision for the african woman to make or does it still come with resistance?

To be honest with you I honestly think that todays society has changed to a great deal, is willing to accept change and never ceases to surprise me. What was unheard of a few decades ago, is perfectly acceptable in todays society. At some point women were not to be seen in jeans/trousers/pants whatever you would like to call it, but today its the norm. So a woman who is as passionate about pursuing her career, an african woman at that, is nolonger such a surprise to people especially in africa. Look at Nonhle goes to hollywood and i could mention a few more women who have forsaken the comfort to pursue greater prospects.

My sister in law is actually going to complete her masters in the USA, she got a scholarship, she has 2 kids and is married, but guess what, she is still pursuing her dreams and career, and her whole family is tagging along with her! So i believe in all honesty, being married, having children, being a mother, cannot possibly stop you as an african woman from pursuing your career. All i can say to you is do it. There is no better time than now. I can tell you, moving to Dar, was a great move. It came with a lot of skeptisism not only from my family and friends but from me as well. Dont get me wrong. Tanzania is absoultely beautiful, with its beaches and great resorts. But there is a lot to adjust to, like the lack of town planning for one, the really bad roads, the threat of malaria and a not so efficient healthcare (and the scare that this poses for a mother like me). But there is one thing that drove me out of my beautiful country Zimbabwe, and thats career and opportunity. So I ask all women out there not to be afraid to dare. Dream big. Trust at the end that the powers that be, and here I mean God, is with you all the way. Once again, it’s great catching up with you after so long!