It is not so often that you get to see skilled players and soul singers from different continents perform on the same stage at no cost, save for a few drinks, for a whole evening in a bubbly and lively environment.
Well, that is what Jazz collective Makumbi Sound delivered yet again Saturday night at the White Horse Restaurant near Ecole Belge in Kigali.
It was an adrenaline packed, yet mellow night as the band, which consists of Andy Mold (drums), Kwang-sik Vertigo Kim (bass guitar), Ibrahim Tam Fum (lead guitar), Junior Keys Kafi (piano) and Chris Nicholson (rhythm guitar) delivered an evening of heart-warming performances.
They were joined by guests Ethiopian-American saxophonist Eva Ghirmai and Chilean guitarist Tito al Uribe and soul singer Carolyn Tarr to complete what is a global ensemble of seasoned performers.
The night kicked off at 9:30p.m through midnight, with the small space inside the bar filled with patrons, friends of the band, live music fans and a few curious first timers.
The playlist included a range of songs from standard and contemporary jazz, Afro-jazz, blues and rock. Singer Carolyn took the lead on some of the songs like Tracy Chapman's For My Lover, Linda Ronstadt's You're No Good and Bill Wither's Aint No Sunshine.
The sound equipment presented a bit of a challenge for the American singer, which, according to Mold, could have come out better with a proper sound check.
However, it later stabilised and the music plus the vocals were good enough to loosen up the crowd which danced along and cheered loudly.
Saxophonist Ghirmai, meanwhile, took the lead on songs like Freddie Hubbard's Povo and Wayne Shorter's Footprints, powerful instrumental songs.
Some of the songs ended with an energetic finale, often with TamFum and Tito soloing between their guitars, switching flawlessly between jazz, rock and blues.
Tam Fum, ever the showman, in one song played the guitar with his teeth. The climax of the evening was TamFum having a guitar battle with Tito.
“Kigali is fast becoming a global city, during the night there are many exciting things happening like jazz, poetry, and other live entertainment. Some of the best artists around are here and it's exciting to be surrounded by a band like this,” said reveller Barrett Nash.
He added that the band had delivered good qualities of live music which can rarely be found in many hangouts.
“It's really nice to see people coming together and playing and dancing, it feels like home, yet it is not noisy,” said Phillip Kaizo, who added that the band knows how to blend in with a laid back crowd.
Nicholson, the guitarist, told The New Times that the band will be playing again in Kigali later this month, as well as in Rubavu in October. There are also plans to take their music to Kampala in Uganda and Nairobi in Kenya.
“We want to be a unique group of artistes from different backgrounds and nationalities, delivering the best quality of music and, so far, we can say people appreciate what we do,” Nicholson said.