Sunday 7 October 2012

The Cape Jazz Band

Update - August 2017

The Cape Jazz Band (CJB)

THE CAPE JAZZ BAND are an all-star group, which draws its members from the cream of Cape Town’s jazz scene to perform a jazz repertoire popular in Cape Town, South Africa. Though they use the word jazz, in fact the sound lies somewhere between improvisational world music and jazz. Either way this group is one that carries the torch of this cultural jewel of the Cape of Good Hope - CAPE JAZZ!

The line-up varies according to the requirements of the engagement.

As a trio, in France 2008 L to R - Kyle Shepherd, Jonathan Rubain and Jack Momple.  
This genre of music had been around for a long time before a tag was put on it. Perhaps the first real internationally recognised proponent of this music was Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ebrahim) and the first popular recording was Manenberg, (sometimes Mannenberg) made in the mid 1970’s. 

But the “jazzification” of Cape folk songs goes back to the time when troops of carnival revellers, known as the Klopse or Coons began to parade through the streets of Cape Town notably on Tweede Nuwe Jaar (the 2nd of January) to compete in the competitions that surround this event. 

Before the idea of this band came into being there was the release of a compilation album featuring a number of recordings under the title Cape Jazz. The record was a run away success for the label and put the genre on the map as far as international jazz media are concerned.

The original Cape Jazz album now only available in digital form.
Several years passed and a bunch of new bands associated with the sound appeared. The Goema Captains headed by Mac McKenzie, The Hilton Schilder Group and Robbie Jansen’s Sons of Table Mountain were pulling in the fans. Interestingly enough there was a lot of cross membership between the groups. The same performers were performing in each other’s bands. These drew from a large pool of players on each occasion with a different leader and main composer.

"The beauty of the band concept is that their show presents music that is mined from the rich vein of star composers in the genre - Dollar Brand, Robbie Jansen, Chris McGregor; Basil Coetzee, Errol Dyers, Hilton Schilder and his father Tony, Jonathan Butler, and more…" says producer, Patrick Lee-Thorp.

Live 2007 - L to R, Cameron Ward, Jonathan Rubain, Alex van Heerden, Shaun Duval, Stephen Erasmus. On drums leader Jack Momple (masked)
 In the 1980s, there was with the rise in popularity of the music of such live performers as Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen and their bands, Sabenza and the Sons of Table Mountain, respectively. The first compilation album featured the two aforementioned sax players, guitarist Jonathan Butler, Morris Goldberg, the Tony Schilder Trio and others. It collected several lively tunes which were strongly reminiscent of the carnival music but which were all original compositions. This was proof that here was a separate genre of music.

The band is managed by Mountain Records who invite different experienced musicians and young stars to take part, very much on the basis that the different groups already do, but with the popular songs and variety of composers at centre stage!

    Newcomer Ramon Alexander in the studio in July 2012 for the new album project
The current line-up consists of a star drummer, Jack Momple who is also leader of the outfit. Jack has played on many of the famous Cape Jazz recordings. Veteran bass players and the composer of a number of Cape Jazz standards, Stephen Erasmus or Spencer Mbadu is on bass. Until his passing this month, Errol Dyers was on guitar. Errol played with Robbie Jansen's groups and with Basil Coetzee's band on record and Live.  He has also a number of solo albums to has credit. Guitarist from Robbie's band, Allou April also sat in at gig this year. On piano is Ramon Alexander a talented young keyboard player and composer.

On the new album by the band, released in September 2013 and titled MUSICAL DEMOCRACY, several local heroes appear.  It is the 4th part of the album series with compositional contributions from all the current members of the group including Errol Dyers. Spencer Mbadu, a veteran of the genre and former member of both Robbie Jansen and Winston Mankunku's bands, shares the bass work with Stephen Erasmus.

Also heard on the CJB album are Mark Fransman on alto sax, Kyle Shepherd on soprano sax and piano, Jonathan Rubain on bass, Lou-Anne Stone on alto sax, Tony Cedras on trumpet, accordion, acoustic guitar and flugelhorn and Dizu Plaatjies on percussion. The album is produced by Patrick Lee-Thorp and Murray Anderson.

The band continue to perform live on special occasions under Jack's leadership notably with high profile shows in 2017 in Cape Town and overseas - link below. .

Contact – Patrick Lee-Thorp,

More -

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