Few descriptions of music events have proved more contentious than the label “jazz festival”. Fans of improvised sounds regularly object to the presence of other genres on the bill, drawing from devotees of other sounds the charge that they are behaving like a “jazz police”. (The late Leonard Cohen’s metaphor dates from 1988 in Canada, which indicates how far in time and geography these spats stretch.) With an event as large as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) – whose first 2017 line-up announcement was on November 22 – the genre argument is usually lost before it begins. CTIJF draws around 37,000 attendees every year and reported for 2016 an injection of close to R62m in direct spend to the Cape Town economy. No single genre could achieve that scale of attendance or revenue in SA, where niche audiences are relatively small.


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