Somi (281593)
Credit: Contributed

The vocalist, songwriter Somi, whose music has become a definitive source in the realm of jazz, will present her second ongoing performing arts program, Salon Africana. The program is dedicated to bringing some of the most compelling artists from the African continent stateside.

On July 2 and July 3 at 8 p.m., Salon Africana will host a concert with a pair of enchanting African female vocalists representing global music and jazz: Senegal’s Julia Sarr and South Africa’s Zoë Modiga at Harlem’s Africa Center, 1280 Fifth Avenue and 110 Street.

Somi says, “We are inviting audiences to reimagine the global Black experience and to honor the transnational, immigrant, and indigenous communities that today’s African artists emerge from.” 

Sarr initially made her mark on the Paris music scene as a backing vocalist for such musicians as Salif Keita, Marcus Miller and the legendary Miriam Makeba. Her debut album “Set Luna,” featured her longtime mentor Youssou Ndour as a special guest. Most recently, Sarr released “Daraludul Yow,” an intimate collection of songs that evokes nostalgia for the native Senegal of her youth.

Modiga draws from the roots of African storytelling, jazz composition and Motown soul that creates her own unique sound. Her debut album, “Yellow the Novel,” was nominated for Best Jazz Album and Best African Artist for the 24th South African Music Awards 2018 and was awarded with the Mbokodo Award for music the same year.

Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center stated, “We are very excited to have Salon Africana’s music series debut at The Africa Center. Somi’s vision of exposing the world to a new understanding of Africa through music and community is totally in sync with our mission as an institution dedicated to new narratives about Africa and its diaspora.” 

Tickets are available at For more information about Salon Africana, visit and join the conversation at


The doctor is in! When Dr. Lonnie Smith sits at his trusty Hammond B-3 organ he creates a stirring moment so intense it reaches the spirit of the holy ghost. Dr. Smith brings his spirited anointed sermon to the Jazz Standard (116 East 27th Street) July 2-4 featuring his trio with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and the young drummer Xavier breaker. Two sets each night at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

On July 5-7 Dr. Lonnie continues with his Octet: trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm (Friday and Saturday), tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, alto saxophone and flute Alexa Tarantino, baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall and drummer Xavier Breaker. With such a vibrant cast of musicians the temperature is sure to be hotter than Florida’s summer sun.

For reservations call 212- 576-2232 or visit the website

Some 800 miles south of Johannesburg’s hustle and bustle, resting on the coast of the South Atlantic Ocean lies Cape Town, South Africa. A native friend of the city says it reminds her of San Francisco (the city by the bay) with its many upscale and homey restaurants all cuddled up near the ocean.

After the Cape Town Jazz Festival that always boasts some outstanding musicians who are definitely worth seeing again, my favorite tourist spots are Table Mountain, beautiful wine vineyards (especially the brand Seven Sisters actually owned by eight siblings, the brother has a separate label, check Whole Foods or Walmart) and the jazz tour.

The Coffeebeans Routes jazz safari is outrageous. The tour consists of a visit to a local jazz musician’s residence, where you are treated to a home cooked dinner with lively discussion around the table followed by a live set. On this occasion we visited the home of trumpeter and composer Blackey Tempi where his wife Sheila Tempi treated us to a delicious home cooked dinner. The live improv living room music included Tempi and his friends, bassist Ronald Bashula and keyboardist Mzwakhe Mabones.

We sat down to a great African dinner with a hardy discussion on the Cape Town jazz scene that for the most part does not exist although there is a wealth of talented musicians in the city. Tempi stated that he supplements his income by teaching music lessons in the school. When the school no longer had funds to cover his position he began teaching private lessons at home. “The only problem we have is we need instruments,” said Tempi. One of the writers from America agreed to assist in getting him instruments through a program in the United States and the representative from South African Tourism also agreed to assist in whatever way she could which raised a big smile from Tempi.

Tempi noted the only work in the city was playing at weddings and special events. In order to really make money traveling to other cities or countries and performing at festivals was warranted. The trumpeter released a CD entitled “Love and Peace” (Ta Blaques) two years ago, which is quite impressive. He will be returning to the studio for his second project once he saves enough funds for studio and musicians, which is an on-going dilemma in the states as well.

Following dinner and dessert, the trio took to their instruments and got the show started with the rhythmic “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (a song originally written and recorded by the South African Solomon Linda under the title “Mbube” Gallo Record Company, 1939), the anthem “Give Peace a Chance,” a Hugh Masekela tune and a muted Miles Davis tune. They closed with an up-tempo swinging local tune that rocked like James Brown was in the house. Tempi says his influences include Miles Davis, Arturo Sandoval, Art Farmer and John Coltrane. He loves playing muted trumpet on straight-ahead jazz laced with rhythms of his homeland.

The name of the tour is Coffeebeans Routes jazz safari, if jazz is your pastime then this experience will be a real insight into Cape Town jazz and family life. Check Coffeebeans Routes online.