News from the Consulate Cape Town
Conversation and Collaboration through Jazz in Cape Town
Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad Brings the Dennis Luxion/Michael Raynor Quartet to Cape Town, South Africa
February 7, 2012 - If music is a universal language, jazz is a dynamic conversation between friends. American jazz musicians, the Dennis Luxion/Michael Raynor Quartet, made lasting friendships during their recent visit to Cape Town on the Rhythm Road program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and coordinated by Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Between February 2 and 5, pianist Dennis Luxion, drummer Michael Raynor, bass player Jeff Pedraz and saxophonist Greg Ward jammed with, inspired, and were inspired by, a diverse group of jazz musicians from Cape Town’s rich and varied jazz scene.
They performed and collaborated with local jazz artists in venues across Cape Town. This included talented young musicians from the Delft Big Band, who practice in a high school classroom in an impoverished sandswept part of the Cape Flats. Under the able direction of trumpeter Ian Smith, the Delft Big Band offers an alternative to the competing interests of drugs, gangs, and crime that plague their community.
In spontaneous “improv” style, the American jazz musicians jumped into Delft Big Band’s practice session, working intensively on technical aspects and ensemble dynamics of Chick Corea’s Spain. By the end of the master class, the sound of pure joy filled the room!
The collaboration with the Delft Big Band continued with a live television appearance on SABC3’s Expresso Morning Show and a magical sunset performance at the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Featuring Delft Big Band’s young trumpeters Lorenzo Blignaut and Marcell Adams, as well as vocalist Adelia Douw, they highlighted Rhythm Road’s emphasis on cultural exchange before a wide audience.
The quartet rounded out their very successful visit by giving a hard-swinging, original performance at Cape Town’s newest jazz club, The Mahogany Room. Self-professed jazz fan Consul General Erica Barks-Ruggles was there, and noted that “Rhythm Road” grew out of the Jazz Ambassadors program which began in the mid-1950s. Jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck toured the world as Jazz Ambassadors, sharing their music and culture through the dynamic conversation that is jazz…a conversation that continues to this day.
The Dennis Luxion/Michael Raynor Quartet continues their southern African tour with several days in Johannesburg before wrapping up in Luanda, Angola. You can follow them on their journey at: http://michaelraynor.net/dlmr4/