My musical career started in late 1996 when I started teaching myself how to play piano and to read music notation. My development on the bass guitar started in 1999. My first ever performance on piano was at my high school’s music evening in 1997. I continued to perform at school where I led the singing of hymns at the morning assemblies. I also played extensively for my church at church services where I would play for the Sunday school and on occasion the normal congregation in the event that the organist was late or absent.
My first public performance outside of school was with my piano teacher George Werner and trumpeter Reginald ‘Blackie’ Tempi at the Cavendish Square Mall at some coffee bar in the centre. I went on to gig with George Werner at various weddings and restaurants to gain experience. In order to do some networking to spread my name around town, I would be George’s roadie and set up his equipment in order to just watch and meet some of the artists that he performed with. One artist that I struck up a relationship with was sax player Ezra Ncgukana. I was asked by George and Ezra to become a founder member of a township music group called the Little Giants. The band was established to showcase the talented young musicians that are abundant in the Cape Flats. I originally joined as the pianist but later became the bassist. The only problem was that I had only been playing bass for 3-6 months. My first big performance in my musical career was at the 1999 Jazzathon jazz festival that was held at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town. I was very nervous and to top it all off one of my newly formed blisters from practicing bust open and I started playing with bleeding fingers!
The Little Giants went on to perform at numerous gigs throughout Cape Town. In this time I honed my skills for arranging, composing and sound engineering in performances with this band. The Little Giants decided to attend the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival in Grahamstown in 2001. I went through the rigorous audition process and was selected for the newly established South African National Youth Jazz Band (NYJB) that was established to showcase the best students between the ages of 18 and 26 who attended the festival. The band was conducted by Marc Duby and went on to perform at the most prestigious music festivals in South Africa like the Joy of Jazz (Johannesburg), Awesome Africa (Durban), The North Sea Jazz Festival (Cape Town) and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
While at the festival I made the acquaintances of Mike Rossi, Mike Campbell and Darryl Andrews who I later learned were lecturers at the South African College of Music (SACM) situated at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I was enrolled at UCT that year to study towards a ‘Bachelor of Commerce (Financial Accounting)’ degree. I approached them about potentially defecting to the music department from the commerce department. During this time I spent minimal time at my studies for the B. Comm. degree and started to immerse myself in music and my future at the SACM. In 2002 I was accepted for the ‘Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies (Composition & Arrangement)’ degree. I later discovered that I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of that course and changed curriculum to the Jazz Studies (Performance) stream. I went on to become on of the SACM’ most prestigious students and sought after performers. I performed in the college Big Band for three years and also for various other college ensembles. I played for many exams, recitals, and college jazz festivals and for visiting artists. I completed my degree and attained distinctions in jazz ensemble, improvisation, bass guitar and overall for my degree. I was also awarded a position on the Dean’s Merit List for my academic achievements.
While studying at the university I continued to perform in and around South Africa. I went on to be selected for the NYJB (2002, 2004), the National Youth Big Band (2003) and returned in 2006 one of the youngest artists and lecturers to ever attend the festival. I performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town in 2002 with the NYJB and Little Giants, and again in 2003 with the DA Band that was led by my one time lecturer Darryl Andrews. I started performing for the Mike Campbell Big Band (MCBB), Junction 021 (a.k.a. James Frank & the Sticky Triggers) and the Johnny Cooper Orchestra to name a few.
In 2005 I was invited to attend and perform at the International Association for Jazz Education conference in Long Beach, California as part of a combined band consisting of performers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the UCT. The band received a standing ovation after the performance and I was approached by many artists who commended me on my playing as part of a group but also as an individual.
I have been fortunate enough to work in the capacity of Musical Director for theatre shows, corporate events and artists. Some projects include ‘Ou Musiekant & ‘The Show Must Go On (Queen)‘; ‘Die Burger Kerskonsert & ‘Shoprite Suppliers Awards’; and ‘Sarah Theron & Onkruid!’ & ‘Sonja Heroldt (Die Sonjare)’ respectively. I have since been involved in collaborations with rhythm & blues, pop/rock gospel and jazz artists in capacities as both co-writer as well as producer. It has been a beautiful experience thus far. I have recorded too many albums to remember but the most notable have been with leading SA vocalists Juanita Du Plessis, Jennifer Jones, Karen Zoid, Zolani Mahola & Amanda Tiffin. Other recordings include phenomenal instrumentalists and groups such as Moreira Chonguica, Steve Dyer, Marcus Wyatt, Deep South and Hugh Masekela to name a few.
I have done some major television performances over the last few years that have included news inserts, specialty shows & focus programmed. The shows that have aired repeatedly have been the Kaapse Jol, Suidoosterfees, Skouspel PLUS 2009-2013, Zoid Afrika (KykNet, 2014), Afrivisie (Kyknet, 2015), Ons Soek Die Sanger (Kyknet, 2013) Die Tempo Toekennings, Die Fiestas Toekennings, RMB Starlight Classics (Cape `Town/Johannesburg) and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2008/2009/2012.I performed for many of the country’s major jazz, pop, Afrikaans and hip-hop artists on these performances. I have done many other notable functions such as the opening of parliament 2004/2005, performed for Oprah Winfrey & Nelson Mandela 2003, the launch of Sol Kerzner’s ‘The One and Only’ Hotel and various shows and tours with artists like Freshlyground & Johnny Clegg. A milestone performance was with the legendary jazz guitarist and vocalist George Benson and his musical director Randy Waldman at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (2010) where we played the music of Nat King Cole. The same year saw a national tour with Jonathan Butler which was another career highlight. 2011 saw another career highlight in the show Symphonic Rocks which was a huge rock gig featuring South Africa’s finest Rock & Acoustic Rock artists and bands such as MacStanley (a.k.a. Flat Stanley), Ard Matthews (Just Jinjer), Elvis Blue, Watershed and Louise Carver. In October 2011 I was invited to perform the show Jazz Meets Symphony (2011) which was sponsored by The Jazz Foundation of South Africa where I and a 60-piece orchestra backed artists such as Gloria Bosman, Feya Faku and international jazz greats such as pianist Lynne Arielle (USA) and tuba-player Howard Johnson (USA).
I am currently employed as the ‘Electric Bass Guitar’ lecturer for the Jazz Studies programme at the University of Cape Town and am the owner/Recording Engineer at ‘Mahogany Recording Studios’. The studio has enjoyed relative success since I opened its doors in 2008. I did a rearrangement of ‘Oh! Happy Day’ for the movie soundtrack ‘The Lion of Judah’ in 2009. I’ve done too many arrangements for big band, string quartets and shows than I care to mention. I cherish the ability of doing a great deal of the conceptualization, production and arrangement for projects and artists alike. Some albums & tracks have been recorded by artists such as Ramon Alexander, Chad Saaiman, Heinrich Frans & Jeremy Olivier. I am currently working on a new album of ‘Library’ music and have already done work for publishers such as ‘African Cream Publishing’.
In my few years as a professional musician and audio engineer, I have been honored and privileged enough to perform and collaborate with many brilliant musicians who have all, I feel, added to my musical knowledge and general musicianship. I am forever grateful for the gift of music and I will try to always honour those responsible for nurturing my talent and allowing me to grow.