Step Aside Katumwa, Walk in Kitanda

Not long ago, whenever there was a discussion of jazz saxophone, you just knew the name that would crop up was Isaiah Katumwa.

And there was good reason for that Katumwa made many of us fall in love with saxophone jazz. He inspired many young people one of them being 23-year-old Michael Kitanda, who is fast stamping his footprints -as currently the most sought-after saxophonist.

In just a short while, the Makerere University bachelor of veterinary medicine student has been making rounds in several places such as GatoMato, JazzVille, Club Silk and Kampala Serena hotel, among others. And last Thursday, singer Maurice Kirya’s The Sound Cup cafeacute on Garden City shopping mall decided to unplug him.

The coffee shop, which has made quite a name ever since it started hosting an artiste once a month for a musical experience with fans, served Kitanda with a cocktail of Ham Namakajjo and Elijah Kitaka, the founders of Fezah Uganda. Fezah Uganda, an online fundraising platform ( that started a year ago, enables jazz music fans to contribute to artistes’ projects under the pipeline.

Kitanda is the best performing artiste on this website, having so far raised Shs 2.28m towards his debut solo album called Saxfaction. The album intends to take his fans on a smooth jazz journey filled with his Ugandan influences. And that is what guests got chance to taste last Thursday!

With a band placed in the middle -with guests seated around it and others standing on the stairs, there was a jolly aura. Rapper, Forever, who is also one of the artistes in the Fezah project, started off the night. He did his hit single E’mama, which worked well in warming up the crowd.

Kitaka played emcee for the evening, and he kept it short and precise. He ushered the man of the night amidst cheers from the crowd. Saxfaction has so far 12 songs, but Kitanda decided to show the audience what he is capable of, by skillfully improvising on other musicians’ songs.

He kicked off with Michael Jackson’s Human nature, before taking on Cambell’s Can We Talk that sent the girls screaming. But it was Aziz Azion’s Wampisa that he did with Shebah Shehai that left many screaming for more. He made you fall in love with the saxophone with how relaxed and wispy he was, belting out soothing tunes.

The saxophonist, who is also a band member of Baxmba Waves, followed it up with another cover Careless Whispers, where he was joined by Coca-Cola rated next’s Charles Ssekitoleko on the vocals. Ssekitoleko proved why the crowd was bitter when he wasn’t announced as winner of the competition. His g vocals weren’t the pitchy type.

He knew how to hold his breath and how to perform an emotive song, not moving around but letting the voice set the tone. Kitanda then called Charmant Mushaga, a talented Congolese guitarist -with whom they demonstrated a voracious hunger for music in their inventive improvisations.

He capped the night with the song that ushered him on the scene, Ssemusajja. The crowd wanted more but he had already made his mark. Indeed, as Katumwa acknowledged on his Facebook page, Kitanda is the new kid to look out for on the jazz scene. At 23, we can only hope for the best from the doctor-to-be.

Source : The Observer

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