New Orleans born Jazz artist Branford Marsalis will be the main act during the Safaricom International Jazz Festival 2016, to be held on 21st February 2016.

The 3-time Grammy Award winning artist has had an impressive career that includes touring with rock star Sting and British singer Phil Collins, with his band –the Branford Marsalis Quartet – enjoying the honour of having the Best Instrumental Jazz Album on iTunes in 2012.

“We are glad to announce that Branford Marsalis will grace the third edition of the Safaricom International Jazz Festival. To make the festival more exciting, we’ve put together an impressive line-up of illustrious Jazz performers from the Middle East, Europe, South Africa and Kenya,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.

“Our goal, since we launched in February 2014 has been to make Nairobi an internationally recognized hub of Jazz music and I believe the wide array of performers that have graced Safaricom Jazz concerts so far has shown that we are indeed committed to giving Kenyans world-class concerts right here at home,” he said.

Belgian Jazz and Classical music pianist and composer Jef Neve, Italian duo Giampaolo Nuti and Francesco D’Orazio, Maya Beltsitzman and Matan Ephrat from Israel, Shabaka Hutchings from the UK and Siya Makuzeni from South Africa, will join Marsalis on stage for a performance that is set to satisfy even the most critical of Jazz music enthusiasts.

Two Kenyan bands – AfroSync Band and Edward Parseen and the Different Faces Band – will get a chance to share the stage with the internationally acclaimed artists. The two bands were selected after a challenging round of auditions that took place last year, which saw them perform alongside Grammy winners Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown, as well as multiple Grammy nominee Gerald Albright and rising star Sheléa at the Safaricom Jazz Lounge in Nairobi and Mombasa in December.

“I am excited to have a chance to learn from these masters of the genre and I consider the Safaricom International Jazz Festival one of the highlights of my career so far,” said Edward Parseen of Different Faces Band.

Making a return to the Festival this year will be Nigerian-born guitarist Kunle Ayo, who first performed at the event in September 2014.

The first edition of the Safaricom International Festival was held in February 2014 and was headlined by New-York based Cameroonian artist Richard Bona.

Jazz artists Aaron Rimbui, Kavutha Mwanzia, Jacob Asiyo, Eddie Grey and Chris Bittok were also part of the ground breaking concert, which was attended by an estimated 5,000 Jazz lovers at the Ngong’ Racecourse.

Kshs.4.5 million collected from ticket sales were donated to Ghetto Classics, which used the funds to purchase music instruments for the 500 children who benefit from the community programme.

Safaricom has so far donated Kshs.12 million to the programme, and as has been the tradition, all proceeds from this year’s event will go towards Ghetto Classics.

Tickets go on sale early February via M-TICKETING as well as at Safaricom shops and the Michael Joseph Centre, and will retail at Kshs.1000 advance, Kshs.300 for students. Children under 12 years will get in free of charge accompanied by a paying adult.

The event is co-sponsored by: Hotel Intercontinental, KLM, Tamarind Group, Apollo Tours, Color Print Limited, Mo Sound, Embassy of Belgium, Embassy of Israel, Italian Cultural Institute and the British Council.

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