Inspiro productions organizers of the annual Lagos International Jazz festival (LIJF) pulled off another feat not only by parading over 50 musicians on their stage but also by the inclusion to their lineup two of Nigeria’s indigenous music heavyweights of the Fuji genre, paramount king of fuji Obesere & fuji superstar Malaika. The three day event was part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Lagos at the festival themed 505050JAZZ [email protected] special edition. The event though very successfully executed wasn’t without its own share of hitches which the organizers expertly addressed as they appeared to deliver yet another grand event. The event was planned to climax at the end of The April Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) which happened to be on April 30 International Jazz Day celebrated worldwide. Prior to the main festival, three Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) session events and three empowerment workshops were conducted at various venues in the city including the SPAN academy of Jazz & contemporary music, The Posh Renaissance Hotel GRA Ikeja, Southpaw Lounge Gbagada, and Industry Nite at The Spice Route Victoria Island, Lagos. This year also the festival committed to raise funds to support two charities namely The Down Syndrome Nigeria Foundation and Sesor Foundation for Internally Displaced Persons.
The main festival was held at the Freedom Park, Lagos Island and kicked off on Friday the 28th April with exciting performances from Jazz & Jazz related artistes like master percussionist Samson Iroko, fellow of London School of music saxophonist Olumide Shobowale, soft rock and alternative music guitarist Nathmac, Piano Duke, master bassists duo D-Bass & Joshua Fashina (Agbar Joshu), Ajaga Master Ade Piper, Clintonic the violinist, Celeste, Wole Jesutomi and trumpeter Jesse Ibidun. Day two of the festival fielded artistes like Afro Gospel Sensation Kenny Kore, Ace Saxophonist Dotun Dina, Afro-Highlife Trombonist Femi Slide, Nathan, Oluchi, Multiple Percussionist Aje Band & Saxophonist Justin Ige perform. The third day and grand finale of the festival was well attended, lived up to its billings and wore well into the early hours of the morning with an array of acts which included the Organic Jazz Band, Bass Master Bright Gain featuring Jojo Body Beats, Afrocentric musician Elfreda, dynamic Afrobeat/Highlife Multi–Instrumentalist Seun Olota, KenBaze, Damilare Sax, Afro-Jazz/Highlife Guitarist Adeh and the delectable Moyeen. The audience were in ecstasy when the paramount King of Fuji Music Obesere mounted the stage about 11pm. For over an hour he thrilled the crowd with hits from his repertoire over the years which surprisingly had generality of the crowd sing and dance to. As his performance ended the Fuji superstar Malaika and his orchestra of native percussions and other musicians got onstage to close the festival. His was a superlative performance and magnificent crowning of the 3 day 505050JAZZ [email protected] Special edition of the festival. Also during the event and in a rare display of solidarity the LIJF founder Ayoola Sadare welcomed on stage the founder of Satchmo Jazz Dolapo Ajayi who had just organized an international jazz day event at Othello’s lounge in the city. PMAN national president Pretty Okafor also mounted the stage to give his brief goodwill message to the audience and organisers.
When asked why the choice and addition of indigenous artistes especially the fuji musicians to this year’s lineup, festival director and LIJF founder Ayoola Sadare said “we decided to look inwards to recognize and honour our own indigenous music and musicians that are making a mark no matter the genre. The likes of fuji, apala, sakara, juju, afrobeat, highlife and others are our own Jazz or what we have termed NAIJAZZ. Other countries celebrate their musicians on their stages and we shouldn’t be the exception.” Sadare further stated “as a tourism based international event, we are developing a tourism and cultural offering that visitors can’t get anywhere in the world except on our stage. As the festival progresses hereafter we hope to be able to add more of our rich cultural and indigenous genres from all part of the country to the offering so that international patrons who should form a large part of our audience can experience and enjoy our own blend of contemporary indigenous music. The Jazz component will not be removed but complemented with these various genres. It’s dynamic, innovative and of course relevant. It also allows the music to reach other audiences that it would not normally not get to. Many collaborations and partnerships have already been formed from this festival and we are satisfied”.