The National Youth Jazz Festival has become one of the most significant jazz development programmes in the country, annually bringing together over 350 students and 40 teachers from diverse backgrounds all over South Africa, with nearly 90 professional jazz musicians and educators. The festival lasts nearly a week, incorporating innovative jazz performance, rehearsals, workshops, lectures, networking and an opportunity for South Africa’s future jazz stars to interact personally and musically with their peers and the country’s top performers.
Since 1992 the NYJF has hosted most of South Africa’s leading jazz musicians, as well as musicians and teachers from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Britain, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the US and Zimbabwe.
The top jazz students in South Africa audition for places in the National Schools Jazz Band and the National Youth Jazz Band (SBNYJB) and these national bands are conducted by some of South Africa’s leading jazz educators and performers. The NYJB performs in Makhanda and at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg and has over the years performed around South Africa as well as in New York, Sweden and at the North Sea Jazz Festival, The Netherlands.
The philosophy of the NYJF is to promote the development of jazz in South African by providing vibrant, excellent educational opportunities for young players; by encouraging artistic integrity and creativity on the world-class Main Jazz Stage; by acknowledging our country’s jazz heritage; by creating a forum for South African musicians to network with peers from around the country and the world; and by providing audiences with unique, quality jazz.