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The Kesivan Naidoo Big Band Experience South Africa tour [Makhanda, etc.]

Tour schedule

Fri 30.06.23 & Sat 01.07 23 – National Arts Festival
Book tickets

Fri 07.07.23 – 19:30 at Star Theatre. Book tickets

Sat 08.07.23 – 19:00 at The Market Theatre. Book tickets

Kesivan Naidoo has been described by Rolling Stone Magazine as “unarguably the most eminent South African drummer of his generation.” Kesivan’s music celebrates the liberation his elders fought so hard to achieve, and his sound is rooted in the art of improvisation, in rapturous expression and radical invention. In June-July 2023, he will return to South Africa for a homecoming tour with his Big Band Experience.

The Kesivan Naidoo Big Band Experience features a dynamic ensemble of 18 young musicians from South Africa and Switzerland. The programme reimagines the drummer’s seminal 2014 album, ‘Brotherhood’, arranged for big band by the celebrated trombonist Adrian Mears (Professor at the Jazz School Basel/member of the Vienna Art Orchestra). Adrian breathes beatific big band arrangements into Kesivan’s modal Afro-Indian modulations and shadowy cinematic improvisations.

The Big Band Experience represents a career milestone for Kesivan, in terms of having his music performed by some of the best young musicians from two continents, as well as developing his own music through the unique, full sound of a Jazz orchestra. “It is a dream to bring an all-star Jazz Orchestra back home,” Kesivan says. The South Africa tour will include headline performances at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Kesivan and Adrian have been working together since early 2022, testing out the big band arrangements at performances in Switzerland with the Swiss Jazz Orchestra. The final arrangement premiered as the opening concert at the Jazzwerkstatt 2023. These concerts were audio and video recorded, and together with the South African performances, will form part of an album and documentary project spanning the artist’s musical journey over the past 20 years.


Conductor and Arranger: Adrian Mears (Aus)
Drums and Composition: Kesivan Naidoo
Double Bass: Benjamin Japhta (SA, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year)
Guitar: Reza Khota (SA)
Piano: Kyle Shepard (SA, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year)
Trumpet 1: Thabo Sikhakhane (SA)
Trumpet 2: Darren English (SA)
Trumpet 3: Sakhile Simane (SA)
Trumpet 4: Lee Thomson (SA)
Trombone 1: Julia Rueffert (CH)
Trombone 2: Siya Makuzeni (SA, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year)
Trombone 3: Andreas Tschopp (CH)
Trombone 4: Maxine Troglauer (D)
Alto 1: Justin Bellairs (SA)
Alto 2: Tara Sarter (D)
Tenor 1: Sisonke Xonti (SA, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year)
Tenor 2: Marc Stucki (CH)
Baritone: Danni McKinnon (SA)


Kesivan Naidoo is a South African born composer and drummer who lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. Kesivan’s music has been hailed by critics as “majestic playing, mind-blowing listening” and “the birth of a new South African jazz sound”.  Born in 1979 in East London, South Africa Kesivan was one of the first non-white students in a formerly white school. He fell in love with jazz at the age of 10 and started performing professionally at 14. Over the past 25 years, Kesivan has forged relationships across the world. He’s performed in Africa, Europe, Asia, and America with jazz luminaries including Dave Liebman, Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, Tarus Marteen, John Patitucci, Maria Schneider, Miriam Makeba, Bheki Mseleku, Zim Ngqawana, Feya Faku, Rene McLean, Jimmy Dludlu, Judith Sepumba, Hotep Galeta, Steve Newman and Carlo Mombelli, Bruce Cassidy, Winston Mankunku and more. He’s also honed his diverse musical vocabulary anchoring innovative groups including Tribe (traditional jazz), Golliwog (funk), Closet Snare (electronic jazz), Babu (world music) and Beat Bag Bohemia (Swiss-Southern African collaboration of four drummers, contemporary classical music).

Kesivan graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA in Music. In 2000 he won the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition which gave him the opportunity to spend one year studying under Prof. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay in India. As the Creative Director of Silent Revolution Music, Kesivan is also a music activist and has composed for feature films and documentaries. In 2001 he won a SAFTA (South African Film and Television award) for Best Music Composition in a Feature Film. The following year, he won the UCT Honors (University of Cape Town) counsel scholarship. In 2009 he was the winner of the South African Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year. In 2010 he released his first album “Instigators of the Revolution” with his band “Kesivan and The Lights”. The album was nominated for a SAMA (South African Music Awards). In October 2014 Kesivan and The Lights performed to standing ovations at the international launch of the album “Brotherhood” at Carnegie Hall. In 2016 (with the Oppenheimer Memorial trust scholarship), Kesivan graduated with his Master’s degree from Berklee College of Music, Global Jazz Institute in Boston, USA under the supervision of Grammy-winning pianist Danilo Perez in 2016. Kesivan now lives in Basel, Switzerland.