Road to Joy of Jazz 2023 with Max-Hoba

Over the years, the Mbira stage at the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival has seemed to be the most daring of them all. This stage has hosted the most atypical of artists and has somewhat been the crowd-puller of audiences who then filter across the rest of the stages. The Mbira stage has the rhythm, feel and sound of [a] home, if ever an overwhelming need to chant is triggered, the Mbira stage is the place to be.

Performing on the Mbira stage on day 2 of this year’s Joy of Jazz is Afrosoul Journeyman, Max-Hoba, who will be returning to the Joy of Jazz for the third time over the span of his career. The virtuoso will be paying tribute to the late great Jabu Khanyile, which is nothing far past his forte having many times before paid tribute in his own music via covers, samples or even snippets.

Read below as we speak through the upcoming show, Bab’Jabu, the preparation and the significance of Joy of Jazz as a platform…

You will be doing a tribute show for Jabu Khanyile. How did this latest invite to Joy of Jazz and the concept come about?

We had been talking about me coming back to the JoJ stage for a while, but then the unfortunate covid thing happened which put the plan on pause. And I’m the type of person who likes “ukuhlupha” (to bother), but in a good way, so I was like “hey guys, when are you sending out invites for JoJ?” Next thing I knew I was given a call to say “hey man, we would like you to be part of this year’s JoJ, but we need you to bring a twist to the show.” And I was like well I’ve always wanted to do a tribute to Bra Jabu Khanyile simply because I’m a huge fan of his music. Even whilst he was alive I would cover his songs and I had the privilege of sharing a stage with him during the last year of his life in Cologne, Germany, along with HHP. So, really for me it was a no-brainer that I use this platform to celebrate and pay tribute to the late great Khanyile.

What are your experiences as a consumer of bab’Jabu Khanyile’s music and how have those influenced your own music?

As a consumer of the music, I first found comfort in the fact that he grew up in the township just like I did and yet he made music that’s so authentic that you would think he came from rural KZN or the mountains of Lesotho. And that spoke of his appreciation for language and culture which resonated with me because I grew up in a township in Welkom. I found that the music he made spoke of many different elements of life which I could relate to. It spoke of love and societal ills, some of which we still experience today. The one thing that has inspired me to pick up the baton from the likes of Jabu Khanyile and Tsepo Tshola is the fact that music that speaks community and addresses societal ills is fading out because you need to do a certain style to get airplay or be booked for gigs and that has never made sense to me; simply because no nation is one dimensional. No two people are the same. Representation in its most authentic form is important and that’s why I make the kind of music I do.

How have you created your tracklist for this set? Will you be incorporating any of your songs in the set?
I will be incorporating songs from my album Beyele: The Journey Continues. And I will also be showcasing the similarities between my music and his music. There may be a guest feature or two or three, you never know. But I can promise up front that it’s going to be great vibes man.

Why do you think Joy of Jazz is so significant in the industry?
For me, Joy of Jazz is thee platform that one would want to be on or associated with. You are guaranteed the utmost best quality in terms of production and hospitality. It gives us, as musicians, the assurance our work is seen and appreciated. By preserving the culture and the music, it lets us know that there is still a place for us as musicians. I mean it gives artists like myself who don’t necessarily do music that is 100% jazz but has influences of jazz, room to showcase our talents and do what we love.
I consider myself fortunate to be doing Joy of Jazz for the third time.

Festival Dates: 29 and 30 September 2023

Venue:  Sandton International Convention Centre.

Tickets are available at Computicket and Checkers outlets.