African Music Culture

Jonathan Butler Headlining 2023 Nairobi International Jazz Festival

nairobi international jazz festival
Avatar of Teresa Mwangi
Written by Teresa Mwangi

The love for great and thrilling music always leave Kenyans longing for the Nairobi International Jazz Festival.

Now, the 2023 edition is here once again giving Kenyan jazz fans a reason to get entertained and relax in a different way. The jazz festival is an annual celebration of jazz music featuring different local and international artists.

History has it that American and British sailors and traders introduced jazz music in Kenya in the 20th century. It is a genre that traces its inception to New Orleans in the US by African slaves.  Jazz gained fame in Nairobi between 1930s and 1960 with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong visiting the Kenyan capital for a concert.

This music still is very popular in this East African hub many decades later and the jazz festival is now a major event.

Where is International Jazz Day 2023?

The Nairobi International Jazz Festival will go down at the Bomas of Kenya on Saturday, October 28. Celebrated global jazz music icon, Jonathan Butler is the guest artist. Local talents Hornsphere, Jacob Asiyo, Kaima & Friends, and the Beathogs Band will colour the night.

nairobi international jazz festival

Nairobi International Jazz Festival. Photo/Capital News

Jonathan Butler is a South African singer-songwriter and guitarist who is known for his unique blend of jazz, R&B, and pop music. He has a prolific jazz portfolio, having released over 20 albums and collaborated with some of the biggest names in the genre, including Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, and Al Jarreau.

What’s special about this night of entertainment is that it is a ‘Jazz for Cancer’ music night. Radio Africa Events will host the festival in aid of cancer patients and creating awareness too. It is in honour of Bob Collymore, the late Safaricom CEO who succumbed to colon cancer in July 2019 after a long battle. The Bob Collymore Foundation and Twa Trust are using the festival as a platform to raising awareness of cancer and helping to save thousands of lives.  The two entities will take 15% of all ticket sales toward creating cancer awareness.

Kenyans celebrate the jazz festival each year in celebrating Collymore who was such a big fan of jazz music.

What Happens at the International Jazz Festival?

Attendees at the Nairobi International Jazz Festival enjoy a blend of internationally renowned jazz artists, local talents, and emerging musicians. This creates a rich and vibrant musical landscape in addition to the music, the festival offers a multifaceted experience for all.

Culinary delights are an integral part of the event, with a wide selection of food and drink vendors offering everything from local Kenyan cuisine to global street food. A well-stocked bar provides beverages, including beer, wine, and cocktails. Visitors can savor a variety of tastes while enjoying the music. Arts and crafts enthusiasts can explore numerous stalls offering handmade goods, from jewelry and clothing to home decor. The festival provides a platform for local artisans to showcase their creativity.

For those eager to delve deeper into the world of jazz, educational workshops are available. These workshops cover topics like jazz history, improvisation, and composition, making it an educational and enriching experience for attendees. To cater to a diverse audience, the festival also includes activities like a children’s play area, dance floors, and a photo booth. All in all, the Nairobi International Jazz Festival is an immersive celebration of music, culture, and creativity, providing a vibrant and enriching experience for all who attend.

nairobi international jazz festival

Nairobi International Festival. Photo/Nairobi News

What is the Theme For International Jazz Day 2023?

Cancer awareness is 2023’s theme for the international jazz festival going down at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. Radio Africa Events organized this festival with support from Bob Collymore Foundation and Twa Trust – both of which will get 15% of all ticket sales to help in cancer awareness campaign.

While millions of people celebrate jazz music every year, Collymore played an integral role in popularizing the genre in Kenya. He was a founding member of the Nairobi International Jazz Festival, and he also supported a number of other jazz initiatives in the country. The Guyanese-born tech business guru also introduced the annual Safaricom Jazz Festival. His passion for jazz was infectious, and he helped to introduce many Kenyans to the genre and also promoted Kenyan jazz musicians on the international stage.


Jazz music in Nairobi is more than a musical event; it is a cancer awareness drive coated in entertainment. It is a phenomenal night of music that Kenyans always look out for every year.

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About the author

Avatar of Teresa Mwangi

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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