Is Blantyre ready for Lilongwe Jazz Festival?

Having won hearts with their lively performances, Lilongwe’s jazz ensemble comprising Erik Paliani, Owen Mbilizi and Gresham Mokwena is set to invade Blantyre for the first time.

The trio is known for championing the Lilongwe Jazz Festival which has earned them a good reputation.

Having conquered Lilongwe, the trio says they now want to try and bring the festival to Blantyre and the response from planned shows will determine if the festival will spill over to the commercial capital.

Paliani: We know that jazz is a small genre

The shows are scheduled to start on August 2 at Blantyre Sports Club (BSC) and will feature the whole cast, while on Sunday they will perform at Doogles where they will feature Mbilizi and the Jazz Café Band.

In an interview, Mbilizi said: “This will be an exploratory tour to see if we can actually bring the jazz festival to Blantyre. If the city responds well, we shall definitely do so.”

During the tour, Mbilizi will be supported by his Jazz Cafe Band, Paliani by his Trio and Mokwena will be joined by Amos Chambota.

Paliani, in an interview from  his base in Mchinji, said they are trying hard to level the playing field for jazz as a music genre in Malawi.

“We know that jazz is a small genre and its appreciation is still small in the country. The plan is to try and create a better understanding of it by teaching new players and listeners. Therefore, we will continue to push on till we get to the desired level,” he said.

He said he is hopeful that they get enough partners they can work with in organising the Blantyre festival: “We are 50 percent in for this one. The challenge is that it is always down to ourselves to get things going in terms of resources.”

Organiser of the Blantyre shows, Francis Mijiga, said considering the calibre of the groups the  shows should be a success. He said he is also counting on the partnership that they have made with BSC which is the venue for the first show.

Mijiga said: “BSC already has members who patronise their music nights every month end. In addition to that, we will also gain from jazz music lovers who rarely get their kind of music in Blantyre.”

He said the success which the Lilongwe Jazz Festival recorded last year is also another factor which can make the two shows a success as people from Blantyre would like to get a feel of their own. 

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