This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz, Sisonke Xonti, represents the new face of South African jazz – urban, erudite, international and skilled, but rooted in his culture. Known as one of South Africa’s most prolific young talents on the tenor sax, he straddles multiple South African worlds: he received a formal musical education and was selected thrice for the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band and twice for the Youth Band, but simultaneously spent weekends in the culturally-rich communities of kwaLanga and Gugulethu, being immersed in the sounds, rhythms and musical experiences that have shaped his cultural identity. A law degree at UCT didn’t keep him from performing with an array of highly-acclaimed musicians such as Jimmy Dludlu, Lira, Hugh Masekela, Judith Sephuma, Feya Faku, Freshlyground, Abdullah Ibrahim, Goodluck, Simphiwe Dana, Bombshelter Beast and also as bandleader in his own jazz project. His debut album Iyonde received critical acclaim and he has played at most major South African festivals as well as in Nigeria, China, Mozambique, Angola, Reunion Islands, Switzerland, Dubai and many other countries. He presents two very different SBYA performances – that reflect his eclectic music interest that spans the spectrum of jazz in South Africa – as part of this year’s (online) festival.
Urban, erudite, international and skilled, but rooted in his culture