The announcement that Richard Bona would headline this year’s Johnnie Walker Jazz Safari was met with curiosity amongst many jazz lovers, because much as the American is a Grammy award-winning bassist, he is not a household name in Uganda.
By the time he left Speke Commonwealth Resort Munyoyo last Saturday, he had die-hard converts. And when it comes to jazz, Kampala’s elite pour out in droves. That was the case at Munyonyo, which was full by 8pm when Black Roots Unlimited and Kaz Kasozi prepared the ground for Bona.
Come 10pm when Bona stepped onto the stage with his band that included Americans and Cubans, he started on a whimper, as the crowd did not seem to click with his music. The performance was flawless and he got standing ovations at the end of each song but generally, the crowd was not fired up.
After an hour, Bona and his band raised the stakes with groovy music that finally got revellers dancing. Within minutes, the crowd was cheering him on in a wholly different way, as the music became catchy.
By the time he completed his performance at midnight, one could not complain having spent Shs 130,000 for a ticket.