This year’s Harambee Festival has just announced jazz royalty as its headliner. SAM WONFOR reveals all and explores the rest of the fizzing four-day programme.
One of the world’s leading jazz trombonists will take centre stage at a vibrant, eclectic and utterly tasty music festival coming to County Durham later this month.
Dennis Rollins & Funky Funk will headline the Harambee Pasadia festival when it returns to Barnard Castle to celebrate the sights, sounds and flavours of Africa and the Caribbean during the Bank Holiday weekend of May 22 to May 25.
The four-day event will feature world-renowned performers of Afro-beat, jazz, reggae, funk and Latin music, as well as drumming and dance workshops, arts events, sporting activities and a great selection of African, Latin and Asian flavoured food.
Virtuoso trombonist Rollins has performed at the forefront of UK jazz, funk and pop for 25 years, sharing the stage with such stars as Maceo Parker and Courtney Pine.
He is joined on the bill by K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade, a West African influenced nine-piece band who will be performing on the main stage at Glastonbury this year after winning the famous festival’s Emerging Talent competition.
North East musicians will be well represented too with jazz favourites the Paul Edis Sextet and Newcastle-based jazz funk band King Bee also on the bill.
Harambee Pasadia was set up by Newcastle-based musicians Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel, who turned their love of throwing music-themed parties for friends into an annual festival. Their own band - Hannabiell & Midnight Blue – are also performing at the festival.
Hannabiell, who is originally from New Jersey, explains: “The festival is all about celebrating Afro-fusions, diverse cultures and providing an opportunity for people to see some incredible musicians and dancers from all across the world.
“We are thrilled with the calibre of acts we have secured this year. Not only do we have one of the world’s best trombonists in Dennis Rollins, but we also have Ray Harris and the Fusion Experience from Glasgow; the Manding Kabou Trio from Paris; Anansi African Drum and dance ensemble from Edingbugh; LyricL from London; and even Briannagh Dennehy, a 13-year-old singer-songwriter who is flying in from New Jersey.”
Harambee Pasadia will also see the world premiere of a unique piece of commissioned music which brings 10 brass band trombonists together with Latin and African-influenced rhythms.
The performance, which has been commissioned by the Northern Regional Brass Band Trust, is largely improvised and features both Hannabiell and Yilis playing percussion and Zimbabwean instruments called mbira.
Yilis, who is originally from the Dominican Republic, added: “Harambee Pasadia is a fusion of Swahili and Spanish and means ‘come together to pass the day’ which is a great way to think about the festival.
“Afro-fusion is very free and spontaneous. We see our role as ambassadors for the festival and the music, so want to provide people with a space to enjoy this music and express themselves in any way they feel. It’s a celebration of so many sights, sounds and cultures and promises to be one of the liveliest and most colourful events in the North East this year.”
During the daytime, free workshops will be offered including percussion and African drumming; Zumba; African dance; Gumboot Dance from South Africa; hip-hop fitness; Afro-American step dancing and even pizza making. On Sunday night, the music will be rounded off with a spectacular fireworks display.
The festival culminates on Bank Holiday Monday (May 25) when it will partner Barnard Castle’s century-old Meet with Afro-fusion sights and sounds joining the more traditional parade of carnival floats and costumes.
Tickets for the four-day Harambee Pasadia festival are £45 per adult (£15 for under 18s and free for under 10s) which includes camping at The Hub in Barnard Castle. Day tickets are available from £25 and various early bird discounts are available until May 4. Visit www.creativevisionsandrhythms.com for more information or www.brownpapertickets.com to book tickets.