The 12th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival -- dubbed "Africa's Greatest Gathering" -- has just announced some of the American artists who'll be appearing this year. Dave Koz makes a return to the festival after his first trip there in 2009 with pal Jonathan Butler. Earth Wind and Fire will also be performing, along with rising star Esperanza Spalding. Promoters are also proud to announce the legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter as a special guest. The Cape Town Festival takes place March 25-26.
Eric Clapton has played a whole lot of venues -- but New York's Lincoln Center hasn't been among them. Until now. Clapton has just announced a series of April dates with Wynton Marsalis. Dubbed "Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton Play the Blues," the shows will include a seven-piece band drawn from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Opening night (April 7) will be a private fundraiser, but the shows on April 8 and 9th will be open to the public. Marsalis is a guest artist on the guitarist's current album, Clapton. Ahead of the New York shows, Clapton is doing a run of West Coast dates, beginning Feb. 25.
John Legend is celebrating "spring break" in his own way: by headlining at two major music festivals. The Grammy-winner has just announced that he'll be performing at the 20th anniversary of the St. Lucia Jazz Festival, which runs from April 30-May 11. He's also booked for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, scheduled for April 29-May 8. Legend is currently out promoting his Wake Up album with the Roots; he heads back into the studio soon to begin work on a new project.
Superstar guitarist Lee Ritenour celebrates a birthday today [Jan. 11]. Since beginning his career at 16, Ritenour has played on over 3000 sessions, made over 40 albums and established himself as one of the all-time great players. His guitar work has been featured on landmark projects from Steely Dan (Aja) and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” to albums by Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. He was a founding member of Fourplay, and has over 17 Grammy nominations to his credit. In 2010, he marked 50 years in the business with the release of “6 String Theory.”
Carlos Santana got married over the holidays, to his longtime drummer, Cindy Blackman. According to People.com, the couple tied the knot on Dec. 19 at a ceremony in Hawaii. Nearly 200 guests were in attendance including Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. The legendary guitarist proposed [on stage] last July and describes his new wife as "a match with everything that I am, from fire of passion to vulnerability. Everything tastes better when you share it with your soulmate."
Nearly 50 leading artists will be appearing and performing at the upcoming Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards, slated for March 10-13, 2011 in San Diego. While the nominees won't be announced until next week, event organizers have revealed an all-star lineup for the event. Among those scheduled to perform are Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, The Rippngtons, Kim Waters, Jonathan Butler, Mindi Abair, Peter White, Brian Culbertson, George Duke, Kirk Whalum and Keiko Matsui. Jeff Lorber will serve as Musical Director. In addition to concerts [one which will take place aboard the flight deck of the carrier USS Midway], fans will be treated to meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, workshops and much more. For information, hit the website.
Fans can peek inside the lush Tuscan estate of Sting and Trudie Styler when the Jan. 2011 edition of Architectural Digest hits the newsstands. The article reconstructs how the couple brought the 16th century Il Palaggio back to its roots as a hunting lodge and working farm. Nestled among hidden gardens and olive groves are many charming touches, including a giant chessboard with toddler-sized pieces which tend to get moved around "after a few bottles of Chianti," according to Styler. The 900-acre estate, purchased by the couple in 1997, is also the source of a line of organic, homemade olive oil, lavender, honey and wines. When the family isn't there, Il Palaggio also hosts yoga retreats for paying guests.
Like a lot of over-50s, Kenny G admits that technology poses some challenges -- mostly when it comes to music. During a stop on his recent holiday tour, he spoke with the Peoria Journal: "It's not easy when you have an audience that's more mature, like my audience....If you're young, you've got a whole audience that's grown up with...downloading and the internet, they're really hip and savvy. They'll go and download and do that. But my audience didn't grow up with that. For me, it's pretty difficult because record stores aren't what they used to be, getting my music exposed to the people who like [it] is very, very difficult."