Ghana Jazz Foundation launched in Accra

Bernard Ayisa (left) and Victor Dey are among the GJF’s founding members

The Ghana Jazz Foundation (GJF), a non-profit organisation that aims to promote live Jazz music and other local art forms through collaborations, educational programmes and support for musicians and live music venues, has been launched in Accra.

It happened on January 6, 2024 as part of activities at the maiden edition of the Jazz In January Festival at the +233 Jazz Bar & Grill. The festival was from January 4 to January 7.

According to the Foundation’s President, Dr Adrian Oddoye, it was formed in 2023 and is a collaboration between lovers of Jazz and musicians to offer a fresh approach to how resources could be brought together to enhance the live music scene in Accra and across Ghana.

He said the GJF is committed to using innovative and strategic methods to connect local talents to the African Diaspora and global sister institutions. In addition, it would work not only for the improvement of performances by local musicians, but also for their welfare, insurance and creativity.

Saxophonist Bernard Ayisa of the GHJazz Collective, a founding member of the GJF, thanked Dr Oddoye for working hard to get the organization going. He said a key idea of the Foundation was to promote music literacy in Ghana.

“What we lack in this country is musicians who can read music. So we want to help promote music literacy and establish in the long term, a centre where people could come and study Jazz and other forms of popular music,” Ayisa pointed out.

Another founding member and pianist for the GHJazz Collective, Victor Dey Jr, endorsed Ayisa’s assertions. He revealed that he had been offering free lessons to some brilliant young people who could not afford to pay him. He, however, felt that sort of situation need not apply to a small group of people that knew him on personal basis.

“I felt it would be a shame to let those talents go to waste. That’s why I teach them for free. I’m working on adapting existing theories and structures in music for the Ghanaian market so that musicians can readily understand how it is that music works and make themselves and us all much better.”

The Foundation’s goals appear to sit well with the Musician’s Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) and its President, Bessa Simons, welcomed the initiatives at the launch. To him, what the GJF has set out to do would help improve the quality of music played here and enable better networking for Ghanaian musicians.

Dutch diplomat, Katja Lasseur , is the other founding member of the GJF. The organization presented an alto saxophone donated by Remy Veerman of Remy Saxophone Repair Shop in the Netherlands, to Esther Nyamekye Kisseh, a music student at the University of Education at Winneba.

Headline acts at the Jazz In January Festival were the GHJazz Collective, Myrna Clayton, Native Vibe, Kevin Flournoy with Lamont Dozier and Jeff Kashiwa.

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