THE ‘We are Outside!!’ slogan followed the traditional ‘Do you Jazz?’ theme after almost two years’ break from outdoor performances as a result of C-19 pandemic. The last live edition held in 2019 at Freedom Park, with the 2021 edition being entirely virtual, kept the jazz festival tradition going. Nigeria’s premier and most popular jazz fiesta – Lagos International Jazz Festival – was staged four days from April 29 – May 3, 2022. The event was initially planned for two days at the prestigious Bay lounge waterfront venue in Lekki, Lagos. However by popular demand, it was extended by a further two days and taken to mainland Fish Farm venue in Ogudu, Lagos, which turned out to be a good outing to celebrate both the international workers’ day and the end of Ramadan fast.
Both the island and mainland editions lived up to their billings as music lovers, both young and old, were treated to an array of various sounds from over 20 acts performing jazz and other related genres in various expressions and fusions. Surprisingly at both locations, although rain threatened top disrupt but it did not keep the eager crowd away from attending and listening to good music.
In attendance at both venues were members of the diplomatic corps, including the American embassy staff, South African Consul-General, Italian Consul-General and a host of French and Spanish expatriates, amongst others who were treated to delightful music.
Headlining the festival this year at both venues was Nigeria’s leading Afrojazz diva and songstress Yinka Davies whose captivating performances were commendable and a lesson in jazz improvisation performance mastery that she horned for close to three decades. At the Bay Lounge in Lekki, she held the audience spellbound with her collaborative performance with veteran entertainer Pa Jimi Solanke who performed Jazz standards to the applause of the audience. At the Fish Farm edition, ace jazz saxophonist and leading man Mikhifa was Davies’ partner who both delivered spectacular performance that thrilled the audience with thunderous applause afterwards. Other stellar performances were from The Sharp Band, Afrobeat band – The Lagos Thugs, Samderry, Afrobeats Guitarist YPick who used his Bay Lounge performance to honour Benson Idonije – the veteran broadcaster and music critic, as his wife celebrated her milestone birthday anniversary. The Idonijes are grandparents to current Afrobeat superstar, African giant and Grammy award winner Burna Boy.
There were also exceptional performances from tenor and baritone soloists, Guchie and Olumide Baritone, Dfunmy, Poshryna Oyin, CJ Amun Nnadi and his team from Port Harcourt – Pamela Scott & August Chuks, ace drummer, Michael Gbenga, and a host of others. The 10 Strings Music Institute presented its all-stars band with their Joy Of Music Africa (JOMA) production at the Fish Farm edition. They paraded an array of next generation stars to look out for in the almost 3-hour presentation of 25 Grammy quality African classic songs. They were led by the institute’s founder, Emmanuel Akapo, and included ShaDe, Prince Charlse, PSG, imi and a host of others.
To draw the curtains to the festival were spectacular performances from both NAIJAZZ Afrobeat multi-instrumentalist, Seun Olota & his Extasi band and YPick. Olota, a veteran in the game, enthralled the audience with witty vocals, bursts of synchronized horns, enhanced choreography and, of course, intermittent bursts of ‘yabis’ reminiscent of Afrobeat founder and legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti of blessed memory. YPick’s superb performance was the curtain call for the entire festival.
Lagos International Jazz Festival 2022 was dedicated to the founder’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Olatokunbo Sadare, who recently passed away. The premier jazz festival is organized yearly by Inspiro Productions and supported by Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc, The Baylounge Lekki, Fish Farm Ogudu and Lagos Tourism. Founded by Ayoola Sadare, the festival has featured stars like Courtney Pine, Freshly Ground, Mike Aremu, Victor Masondo, Gloria Ibru, Dede and a host of others over the years.