The University of Cape Town is one of the top universities not only in South Africa, but in the whole world. UCT’s music department, the South African College of Music (SACM) follows suit. This venue has become highly acclaimed in the genres of Western Classical, African, Opera and Jazz music, boasting staff members including Jazz pianists Andrew Lilley and Jason Reolon, guitarist James Grace, classical pianist Francois du Toit and African music specialist Dizu Plaatjies among many others. And the students are not bad either.
Room C7 in the college is a regular venue for student recitals and fund raising concerts, and I popped in there last weekend to watch young saxophonist Basil Raad in action. This versatile young honours student – also a composer, arranger, session musician, teacher and conductor for the Wynberg Girl’s High School Jazz Band – was holding a fund-raising concert to pay off her baritone saxophone (those things are expensive. And heavy.)
A natural speaker, Raad threaded the gig together seamlessly announcing the songs, introducing the band members and cracking jokes throughout the performance. She alternated between the baritone saxophone and the tenor saxophone, and was joined by fellow students Adam Coolsaet (drums), Aldert du Toit (guitar), Benjamin Jephta (bass), James McClure (trumpet), Murray Buitendag (trombone), Amy Campbell (vocals) and other guests.
This well-rounded programme included some original compositions such as ‘The Phrygian Woman’ featuring Amy Campbell on vocals, an arrangement of the popular tune ‘Summertime’ renamed to ‘I’m Sick of Summertime’ and an intimate duet with trombone and baritone saxophone. I particularly enjoyed the former – it was catchy, contemporary and modal, and reminded me of one of my favorite Marcus Wyatt tunes, ‘Mr Baloi’.
Short and sweet, the gig was done in an hour and after catching Raad for a quick word, I found out that she is a finalist for the FMR Music Competition and was on her way to give another performance (popular girl!). Such is the life of a musician…
If you find yourself wondering what scores of young, talented South African musicians are up to, I thoroughly recommend that you catch one of these light-hearted, laid back gigs for yourself to get the full flavour.