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Believe in what you do, Rimbui tells workshop

posted Apr 23, 2014, 1:03 PM by Daystar University Language and Music   [ updated Apr 24, 2014, 9:25 PM ]

As part of the countdown to the International Jazz Day commemorations in Nairobi this year, jazz pianist Aaron Rimbui held a jazz workshop at the Athi River campus on April 23rd, 2014.

Rimbui began the session by telling how he became a pianist after switching from playing the drums. He said that his parents encouraged him and his siblings to pursue their talents, and bought them instruments. After completing high school, Rimbui took a one-year tour of the US with Youth for Christ, then returned and started working in the studio with Bruce Odhiambo. In 2005, he was asked by Kanji Mbugua to collaborate with him in setting up Kijiji entertainment. He has since become a producer as well, of artists like Kanji and Atemi.

Rimbui said he liked the jazz art form because of the freedom it gave musicians through improvisation. He said he has heard Kenyans say they don't like jazz, only for it to be played and they discover they actually like the music. He therefore realized that even though people say they don't like jazz,in reality, "they don't know jazz." He is therefore committed to making jazz culture more entrenched in Kenya, which he does through the "All that jazz" festivals which are held three times a year.

Rimbui also told of his journey from the days in which he performed to a literally empty house to when the "All that jazz" shows would be sold out. He said told the participants that once they make up their mind about what they to perform, they should "stick to it." He also said that musicians must confidently announce their occupation. "When people doing business are asked what they want to be, they proudly say 'entrepreneurs,' he said. Musicians too, must be proud of music, which is no different from any other career. When he's asked what he does for a living, he states "I play the piano and I have no apologies." The bottom line, he said, is that once you have decided you want to be a musician, you must "believe what you do."

Rimbui also discussed, by demonstration, essential tools of playing jazz, such as scales and improvisation. 

In addition to being a performer, Rimbui also produces, organizes events, teaches, hosts the radio show Capital Jazz and plays on TV shows such as TPF.

The audience at the workshop included Music students and Daystar student musicians, guests from Nairobi campus, as well as Sarah Rimbui, Aaron's wife, Bill and Julisa Rowe, Thomas Makunda and Dr. Wandia.

All that Jazz Festival will take place on April 30th from 8 to 10 pm at the National Museum. More details can be found on twitter here.

Rimbui's visit makes the third by a major jazz artist to Daystar. In April 2012, the Department hosted Davey Yarborough of the Duke Ellington Jazz Arts Institute in Washington DC, and in November 2013, it hosted the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.