About Us

FOUNDED IN 1999 by the Late Dennis Barr

The Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival started in 1999 as a fundraising event for a community project. Five big bands performed that evening, and the event was a great success.

Since then CTBBJ Festival has grown to a four-night Festival showcasing 24 big bands from schools, colleges, universities and the local community as well as introducing national and international professional musicians. These musicians perform with the Alumni Big Band as well as undertaking various music workshops at schools.

The monies raised from the Festival are utilised for various initiatives, especially in disadvantaged communities.  At present the Festival is supporting numerous schools in their endeavours to provide its learners, by and large consisting of youth at risk, with music education.

  • focuses on supporting music education in the big band jazz format for school and college students in the community.
  • proceeds from the Festival go towards assisting the jazz studies programme at SA College of Music. Sponsorship to the Beau Soleil Music for the Africa Trust. This initiative was formed by the Beau Soleil Music College in 2003 and is a development programme for youngsters from disadvantaged areas.
  • Donations to schools who participate in the Annual CTBBJ Festival, as well as other music initiatives in the community.
  • musical instrument donations have also been made to Beau Soleil Africa Trust, Athlone Music Academy, York Road Primary School as well as Eluxolweni Primary School, Steenberg High School, Delft Big Band, Ned Doman High School, Kronendal Music Academy and Delft Performing Arts Centre. We have also sponsored sets of marimbas for Ned Doman High School, Mount View High School and Hout Bay High School.
  • provides an opportunity for young musicians to display their talents to a knowledgeable and appreciative audience at a prestigious event.  And to assess their performance by comparison with the other bands in a non-competitive environment.
  • encourages young musicians, presently at a primary and secondary level, to develop their talents through further education at tertiary level, leading to a career in music.
  • assists in widening young people‚Äôs participation in playing a style of music familiar to their culture across the community.
  • reflects a world-wide resurgence in popularity of the big band swinging sound of exponents such as, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Gerry Bosman as well as encouraging the performance of music composed and arranged by South African musicians.
  • promotes awareness of the big band jazz style, gaining young fans and reviving fond memories of the swing era for many older fans.
  • attracts growing support from the business and public community.
  • associated with and supported by the S.A. College of Music.

Seniors Concert the Festival invites service organisations such as Lions and Rotary who provide transport, to escort seniors from the community to join us on the Saturday morning of the Festival, where they are entertained by various big bands. This is a very popular event which has the seniors tapping their feet and full of praise for the young musicians.

Chisa Community Outreach Project which is held on the Saturday afternoon of the Festival, is a special performance to an invited audience of 620 youngsters from the disadvantaged community, they are entertained by a number of music groups.

In 2012 the CTBBJ Festival set up the Marimba Project. Since then numerous schools have benefitted with marimba lessons undertaken by Woodworxmarimbas which the CTBBJ Festival sponsors.

Following this the Steelband Project which is run by David Wickham started at numerous schools. Ned Doman High School and Manenberg High School have had a large number of learners go through this programme. At present we support Heideveld and Woodlands Primary Schools. For both the Marimba and Steelband projects, we organise a one-night Festival every year to showcase these talented musicians.




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