The inaugural Mjini Jazz Festival is set to strike its first note today, writes GARDY CHACHA

Today, jazz music fans will be at Alliance Française to have a whole new experience with cool sounds synonymous with the genre. The event has been organised by a dedicated local musician, Patrick Nakaya, who thought of the concept bringing together local international musical acts, only comparable to similar international events like Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Patrick is the CEO of Mjini Jazz Ltd, an events management company. He says: “We believe that in the near future Mjini Jazz Festival can be equated to some of the world’s best music festivals. Music has grown in the recent past and the virtuosity of our musicians is clearly visible.”

Though relatively nondescript, Nakaya says his team is working towards achieving the zest witnessed at international jazz fests, graced by universally acclaimed jazz musicians to entertain the Kenyan audience. Today’s event, apart from entertaining, will set precedence for regular sequels that should follow every January, May and October.

Compared to other music genres, Patrick says that the sweetness of jazz music goes beyond the sound felt on the eardrum. “Jazz is about improvisation, syncopation and artistic creativity provoked by a momentous situation,” he says. “The music is live in every sense – from the voices of the performers to the instruments used. In the 1960s to early 1980s recorded and live music was played live with at least five-piece band. But with the introduction of sequencers and computer programmes, we lost the art of musicianship. We should strive to bring that back.”


The performance today will only provide the floor for local talents; exposing them more to jazz’s growing audience in the country. However, in October this year, Patrick says international performers will be on stage to perform, which is the target for commenecement of the jazz festival in Kenya.

Today’s peformances will be by local acts: Kenya’s top musicians taken from the Nairobi live performance circuit. They include Patrick Nakaya himself, Kato, Mitchel Ongaro, Sage and Le Tortue, Katoo Change, Threat Band and Ricky Na Marifiki.

The event will be conducted by jazz presenter and enthusiast Jack Ojiambo and it is expected to last from 6 in the evening till 11 pm. Mitchel Ongaro, a jazz performer considerably known by both the local and international market, having recorded with other international artistes from Germany and other European countries, says that the experience for attendants today will be scintillating, if not downright sweet – which is the essence of jazz music.

“Expect well-rehearsed music; good music created from the contemporary and delivered into existence by a talented team of artistes,” said Mitchel. Mitchel, who says that his life has been all about jazz music – performing at school festivals and in other available fora while growing up – has already released two albums which are selling in the overseas markets and also within the country.

Inception stage

Patrick acknowledges that it may be sometime before the Mjini Jazz event achieves international prominence but he holds that he has optimism that as the local market slowly learns to accommodate local performers, the dream is not farfetched. “The journey of a thousand performers begins with one musician, after all. I believe this event will assist local musicians develop their career. It will give musicians and their audiences a chance to interact in a truly inspiring environment,” says Patrick.

Patrick adds that his team is committed to the inception stage they are committed and focused on quality in all areas of the whole event. He says they plan to host three events every year, namely, Mjini Jazz in January and May and Mjini Jazz Festival every October.