Events | Qwela Junction “The Sax Aces”

Before I begin, I’ll have you know that I’m not the biggest fan of concerts. They’re usually too crowded and I live in fear of stampedes. But mentions of the Saxaces concert have been all over my time line for a few weeks now and even though I know nothing about jazz (besides the fact that the saxophone is the most beautiful instrument ever made), I put on my dancing shoes and went to see what the fuss was all about.

Here’s what I thought…

The highlight of the evening, the Sax Aces bringing the house down with the legend -Moses Matovu

Venue: For starters, the choice of venue was perfect for the event. One would imagine that jazz enthusiasts (or the crowd this sort of event would appeal to) are posh. What better place to entertain the lavish Ugandans than the Kampala Serena?

Parking: Surprisingly easy. The last time I attended a show at the Serena (Mafikizolo), concert-goers weren’t allowed to park in the hotel’s vast parking lot. Instead, an arrangement was made for the cars to park in an abandoned lot on the left side of the hotel grounds. So the ease in parking this time round was a very pleasant surprise. I don’t think anyone hustled with parking. There was plenty of space for everyone.

Entrance/ticketing: Again, easy. There were no queues at all! Getting tickets and getting inside was a 1-2 minute job (depending on which shoes you were wearing). Very well done in that department, guys. Getting into events is usually so frustrating.

Set up: The stage, lighting and displays were perfect! They even had a spotlight πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ The spotlight person was a little slow though. He just kept on missing his [would-have-been] moments. But I was happy there was one anyway.

Time keeping: Very Very African. The show started at 7.20pm (that’s when Denzel started talking so we probably started 10 or 15 minutes after that) and ended at exactly 11.00pm.

Entertainment; did they keep the crowd entertained all through?
They lost me at some point, to be honest. It’s possible that this is due to the fact that I’m not really into jazz but one or two of those long heavy instrumentals that were played somewhere in the middle dragged a little bit. But they made a comeback with MoRoots’ song and it was all uphill again from there.

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The MC: Very articulate. Too many inappropriate jokes for one night though.

The performers: which performance blew me away?
Eish, I might just list everyone. Kimera, for starters. He
opened with what I would call the best cover of the Ugandan national anthem yet. πŸ™‚ Brilliant too because we were all supposed to be standing through that. Unfortunately Ugandans weren’t about that life this time round so it didn’t quite work out that way. But A for effort. Did I mention that The. Man. Can. Sing? So much talent in one human being. Unbelievable!

The Sax queen, Maureen Rutabingwa
The Sax queen, Maureen Rutabingwa

Then, of course, MoRoots. No surprise there. She’s had my heart since I first watched her perform 3ish years ago at Jazzville. She’s definitely the soul deep queen. Whether it’s an original composition or a cover, this woman really knows how to pick her stuff… and how to tag at the strings of our hearts. If passion had a face, this is what it would look like.

Isaiah Katumwa: I’ll start by confessing to never having seen him perform anywhere before. He was every bit worth the wait!!! What a performer! You can tell from his performance that he loves his instrument and enjoys his art. He makes you want to grab the nearest saxophone and give it a go! (Bucket list)

Then there was the man himself -the legendary Moses Matovu! This man brings the house down wherever he goes… and true to his legacy, BRoUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN. The crowd was on it’s feet at the mention of his name. He was received with a standing ovation. And he did not disappoint. He opened with the popular song “silina anambiika” which was followed by “Galib’enjole” and ended with “Obangaina”. Oh what a performance!

MoRoots and Isaiah Katumwa doing their thing.
MoRoots and Isaiah Katumwa doing their thing.

Speeches: I have to say that there was TOO MUCH talking! At some point, Isaiah spoke for like a day and a half. And several others followed suit after that. I felt like all that needed to be said about the artists (with the exception of Moses Matovu’s introduction, which was deserved) should have been said in the media campaign that led up to the event. The concert was a time for the music to speak for itself. The speeches sort of altered the smoothness of the transitioning from one artist to the next.

Who did the crowd love?
The song “Naki, Bambi be my lover” got the crowd so excited (first act). Kenneth Mugabi, aka the afro jazz man or as he calls himself; the storyteller.

Kenneth Mugabi aka The Afrojazz man
Kenneth Mugabi aka The Afrojazz man

Mo Roots was a crowd favorite all night. Brian Mugyenyi got the people going too. And then of course the legends, Moses Matovu and Isaiah. They both had such a powerful presence. In fact, I believe Isaiah Katumwa has a marriage proposal (or several) coming his way soon πŸ™‚

Was the audience dancing?
To be honest, I don’t think these guys were trying to make anyone dance. Not until the very end, anyway. I’m pretty sure they would have made us dance if they’d wanted to.

Was it worth the fuss?
Yes, yes and yes. Even if you were to decide that you didn’t like Jazz after all and never went back for another concert, this particular one was completely worth attending. Such a wonderful experience! Kudos to the Qwela and the Sax Aces for such a wonderful night.

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