GAUTENG'S premier jazz gathering, the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, is just ahead again and fantastic performances by international and local heavyweights await music lovers.

The festival runs from August 27 to 29.

The line-up boasts Switzerland's Grammy Award-winning harpist, Andreas Vollenweider, American tenor and soprano saxophonist Marion Meadows, our very own Jonas Gwangwa, Pops Mohammed, Jimmy Dludlu, Vusi Mahlasela, Judith Sephuma and many more.

Perhaps the highlight will be Mohammed's guest appearance in Vollenweider's show on the Migra Stage on August 28 and 29.

Vollenweider, who has sold 15million records in 47 countries and has won a Grammy and several nominations, has appeared in 3432 concerts in the best venues around the globe.

Mohammed, on the other hand, specialises in traditional instruments such as the kora (a harp from West Africa) the mbira (a thumb piano from Zimbabwe) the didgeridoo (native to the aboriginal people of Australia) and the birimbau and African mouth bow, which were developed by the South American Indians and the San of the Kalahari, respectively.

Performers will come from various countries such the US, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as Africans from the diaspora.

Festival promoter T-Musicman's Peter Tladi said they had pulled out all the stops this year to bring home the creme de la creme of the genre.

"The 2009 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz brings an array of quality jazz to satisfy all tastes across the jazz genre and should appeal to all jazz lovers around the country," Tladi said.

There will be gigs at six venues in Johannesburg's Newtown precinct. The Naledi Stage and Mbira Stage will be erected on Mary Fitzgerald Square.

Other venues include The Market Theatre, The Baseline, Sophiatown and Nikki's Oasis.

"There is free entry to the Newtown venues of Sophiatown and Nikki's Oasis, where developmental and emerging bands are given the opportunity to gain experience and showcase their talent," Tladi said.

He said part of the programme would consist of workshops run by international artists.

"We are proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a festival that has put Jozi on the international jazz map," Tladi said.

"Once again we have endeavoured to provide a diverse range of jazz styles. The artists performing this year are all highly respected, heavyweight musicians, whether newcomers or those who are icons of the global jazz scene."

Though she might not be regarded as a jazz artist, radio presenter Unathi Nkayi and Afro-pop songstress Judith Sephuma will headline a performance on the Dinaledi Stage.

The two will share the stage with Spain's Summra and other artists.

Rwandan star Somi will make her debut appearance at South Africa's premier festival and will be using bass guitarist Mlungisi Gegana as well as Nigerian Kunle as guitarists.

"Music lovers can expect an explosion of talent from the African continent, not only from the big names, but from all the musicians who will be performing," Tladi said.