Thapelo Khumisi is a pianist from South Africa, he is a Endorsed Exceptional Talent. Last year, he performed at the Amersfoort World Jazz Festival.
What was your experience during the festival?
Ah, it was refreshing and great listening to all the wonderful jazz musicians from different walks of life. I had the opportunity to play with incredible musicians such as Sven Rozier, a Dutch drummer, Pangsaxgirl from Thailand, and Laura Martini from Ukraine. It is indeed a Musician’s Paradise where you can interact with everyone, including festival directors from around the world. The most fun was playing on the last day at the Director’s Invite with great jazz players, where music takes over, and we exchange musical ideas with other musicians as the music progresses. My trio and Rofhiwa Ratombo played at the Lieve Vrouwe Kerkhof right after the main stage. The great saxophonist Lucas Santana joined us as the music called him while he was heading to his hotel.
Can you tell us something about the exchange between South African musicians and Dutch musicians?
The relationship between South African and Dutch musicians is a long and fulfilling one. Every year, Joy Of Jazz and Amersfoort Jazz Festival send different upcoming jazz musicians to perform at each other’s festivals. In 2017, I heard Peter Beets at the Joy Of Jazz festival, and in 2018, the New York Jazz Orchestra, along with South African musicians like Ntando Ngcapu, Bokani Dyer, Keorapetse Kolwane, Rofhiwa Ratombo, Gally Ngoveni, and Kgotso Vilakazi, had the opportunity to perform at the Amersfoort Jazz Festival. Additionally, our institution, Unisa, hosts international Jazz and Classical Piano and Strings competitions. Some of the jury members are incredible Dutch musicians. From the developmental program at the Unisa Music Foundation, we had Alexander Beets conduct a workshop with some of my students from disadvantaged communities for the first time. IKSCONSULT, led by Andrea Le Roux, has great programs that assist South African jazz artists in upskilling and creating a bridge to access international Jazz festival directors.
What do you like about the festival?
The normalization of access for everyone, linking you to another festival. The jam session was one of the great platforms. Indeed, it’s a Musician’s Paradise. There’s a variety of different styles in one festival, from big band sounds to this day; I still remember the ambiance of the sounds. During one performance, we met a couple with a differently-abled child who came to listen to an African Jazz band. Their differently-abled child enjoyed our performance at Theatre De Lieve Vrouw, as his parents informed us. You meet people from all walks of life; it’s very meaningful.
What are your musical plans? Are you making a new album? Where can we find your music?
I released a single called “Ndege Nzuri” in 2022, which is available on all online platforms. This year, I’ll be releasing my album entitled “CityofRoses,” featuring 12 tracks, around April.