Jazz music is gaining massive acceptance in Uganda in the past few years.
There was a time the genre was obviously filled with false loyalty, the people whose appreciation of the music started and ended with Jazz Safari.
Of course places like Jazzville were going on with their authentic jazz sessions on Thursday nights but were not getting the love like the reknown annual jazz celebration that has seen people like Jeo Thomas, Kirk Whalum, Regina Bell as well as our own Lillian Mbabazi grace the stage.
Today though, the love for jazz in even nontraditional spaces for the genre is overwhelming, and that’s how the monthly Johnnie Walker’s Jazz Night that takes place every first Thursday at Guvnor comes in.
The shows have since had artistes Ernest Otim and Njoroge Kiracho, both bass guitarists and Kaz Kasozi, a vocalist and guitarist among others, in fact, it was only in October that the organisers had to call it off.
According to Elijah Kitaka, one of the organizers, the move was to allow them swiftly go through the preparations of Jazz Safari that happened at Lugogo Cricket Oval.
Charmant Mushaga, the artiste of the night is amazing, he guitar skill has marveled at shows like that of Isaiah Katumwa and Hugh Masekela, the different Qwela Junction shows and he has in the past had cameo roles of the Jazz Nights at Guvnor.
This particular show could probably have been the very first time many people were seeing Charmant in an own show, he has always been backing other people but still managing to shine thus, a lone show was one to indeed look out for.
It had rained earlier on in the day and it was hard imagining if people were going to show up, but thankfully, activity was on normally inside, people kept showing up swiftly as the artiste, joined by friends kept doing their sound checks.
Charmant is a skilled guitarist, he knows how to merge theatricals with musical mastery that keeps the audience on its toes. He did songs like Mutoto lala, Afro-report, When I’m with you, Bado Bado and Eddy Kenzo’s Mbilo Mbilo.
But Charmant is always better appreciated when there’s a fine vocalist to sing to his tunes thus it was breathe taking when Naava Grey joined him to do a Spanish themed song, he would later be joined by Myko Ouma to do Dream Again and Saida Kaloli’s Wachekecha.
Much as Charmant has his theatricals in place and the right energy, his performance could have been a lower tempo one as compared to the past performers that have left both the stage and the audience merely wild, in fact, the Thursday show was more of a new page, it was that show where appreciation of the music in play kept you around – some would have even thought it was too calm.
He closed his set at 11pm, and of course, people that appreciate instrumentation to the bone were satisfied. The next Jazz Night with Johnnie Walker is happening on December 1 and maestro Myko Ouma will be the guy to watch.
First published in The Observer