JAZZ lovers were given a special treat when the Oude Meester Ekurhuleni Comes Alive jazz evening celebrated its 11th birthday.
Also celebrating his birthday was founder of the jazz concept, Jazzman Mahlakgane, who is the marketing director of Birchwood Hotel, which hosts the monthly event.
Although the temperature was below 5°C, jazz patrons occupied all 1000 seats.
The event, which started with a seating capacity of about 150 in 2001, has grown in popularity.
People braved the chilly weather, coming out in winter coats, hats and scarfs.
Veterans Jonas Gwangwa and Tshepo Tshola celebrated the occasion by playing their most popular songs. They also sang a special birthday song to both the Birchwood Hotel and Mahlakgane.
Gwangwa kicked off the evening by declaring: "We are going to play you some jazz now. I know that it may be confusing ... there are so many names of jazz nowadays, different types - some play kwaito, and it's jazz. I'm going to play some jazz."
Tshola added later on: "It is a beautiful thing to witness something grow. It's a journey worth travelling. We can't stop now."
Both legends described the event as "one of the country's premier jazz evenings".
Mahlakgane said when he joined the hotel 11 years ago, the Birchwood was still small and Ekurhuleni was regarded as a "dead area".
"That is where the concept of the 'East Comes Alive' comes from," he said, which is now known as Ekurhuleni Comes Alive.
At the time, Birchwood only had 58 rooms and a small conference centre. The hotel now boats 600 rooms and is constructing a convention centre.
Mahlakgane said the idea of "East Comes Alive" was to initially give up-and-coming artists a launching pad by allowing them to share the stage with legends.
He added that the next step would be to invite an international artist at least once a year and more local white artists.
Mahlakgane said comedy would also become a new feature.
Up-and-coming vocalist and pianist Nomfundo Xaluva wowed the appreciative crowd.
The evening was topped by "Strictly Vernac" comedians Schoolboy and Pule - a white man doing comedy in Setswana. - Additional reporting by Katlego Moeng