As fans trickled into the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani, the all too familiar tunes of DJ D-lite welcomed them in anticipation of a fun filled afternoon. One could feel the excitement building up especially with the amazing lineup of artists and I for one could simply not wait!

DJ Delight on the decks

Jazz by its very nature is a kind of freedom, a freedom that thrives on endless exploration and ceaseless discovery; jazz is the kind of music that moves you and this was the familiar testament from the thousands of attendees at the fourth edition of the Safaricom Jazz Festival.

The first act; the Taxi Wars from Belgium were full of swing and energy, setting up the pace for the afternoon. Song after song, they managed to pull the crowd into their music that was a fusion of engaging rhythms, poetical lyricism and a whole lot of rock intensity.

Taxi Wars

What however had the crowd on their feet was when Laka from Shamsi Music stepped on the stage in collaboration with the Bokani Dyer Trio who had already thrilled the crowd with soulful music from some of his albums. The play with Laka from Shamsi Music kicked this up a notch as he magically lulled the crowd with his Saxophone.

Bokani Dyer performs alongside Saxophonist, Laka Nyaga of Shamsi Music.

Another clear favorite for the day was Kenya’s Shamsi Music who had everyone on their feet dancing and singing along to tunes of covers which consisted of afro-jazz and an extra dash of contemporary classics like Ni Murata.

Shamsi Music.

Nairobi Horns Project, another beloved Kenyan Musical collective, had fans screaming at the top of their lungs when they started performed a mash up set consisting of songs like the legendary classic Boomba Train by the late E-sir, Kookoo by Elani Music and Nyashinki’s Mungu Pekee. The set, which would have been assumed to be a favorite only to the locals got a surprisingly amount of love from the foreigners in the crowd as well.

The ladies also got a lot of love when the all-girl trio from Israel, The Hazelnuts, got on stage. Their vocal splendor, exquisite vocal harmonies and spiced up covers of songs like Single Ladies by Beyoncé had everyone in awe of their immense talent. Their collaboration with British-Asian Arun Ghosh on the clarinet was also a clear favorite. He played the clarinet with such aurora that clearly depicted his love for the instrument, his roots and the many cultures he’s interacted with over the years.

The Hazelnuts from Israel

Ray Lema, who is considered a godfather in music especially in Africa brought together an amazing African flow act pieced together with Rhumba and Jazz and simultaneously also magnificently displayed his skills on the piano.

Ray Lema from the DRC

Very few players can closely identify with an instrument to a point where everyone who listens to them play fall in love with their charm, but that is exactly what transpired the moment David Sanborn started playing the saxophone. From the moment he got on to the stage, everyone paid attention to him, obviously waiting to be blown away by the icon’s mastery of the craft and for more than an hour, the thousands of people gathered at the arena were dazzled by his skill.

David Sanborn.

Backed up by his amazing band, they had revelers on their feet singing along to songs from some of his renowned albums ‘Time in the river’, and a very special performance of ‘The Dream’.

As his time on stage was coming to an end and people shouting for him to play just one more song, I crossed my fingers hoping that the time would stop, the magic of the night would never end and that bigger & better memories would be made in the coming Safaricom Jazz festivals.