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Saturday, April 18, 2009


(Pic: David Jack, Dee “The Duke” Sharma and Nicholas Joseph of Calypsoes)

UMBA pays tribute in ballroom spectacular to Dukes Combo and five music legends of yesteryear.

The collective music playing experience of more than 300 years will come together at Durban’s DLI Hall on April 30 when the United Musicians Benefit Association (UMBA) pays tribute to current musicians of the evergreen group Dukes Combo and five music legends of yesteryear.

The event will give due recognition for the invaluable contribution made to the local and national entertainment scene by the Dukes, David Jack, the late Manna George of Sam’s Latin Kings, Nicholas Joseph of Calypsoes, Sonny Pretorius of the Ambassadors and Leo Champion of Jazz Minstrels fame.

Founder and leader of the Dukes, Dee Sharma, who is also one of the founders and the brainchild behind UMBA which has its mission to recognise and honour musicians of yesteryear said: “It will indeed be a rare occasion to bring these music legends together under one roof. Through their musical talents, these guys made an immeasurable contribution to bringing joy and light into the lives of people over many decades.

“Realising it is a crying shame to see great musicians fade into obscurity without receiving recognition, UMBA decided they should be singled out and hailed for providing wonderful entertainment in their prime years,” added Sharma.

David Jack who performed and managed the Stardust Dance Band and Sam’s Latin Kings, remembers how in 1952 during apartheid, the first dance band competition was held only for Non-Europeans, only on condition they could read music.

“This was just one of the many injustices that our musicians had to suffer. But we persevered and Sam’s Latin Kings took first prize in this competition in 1956,” said Jack, adding the band again won the contest in 1959.

Nicholas Joseph started his musical career in 1961 and played for the Starlites as a drummer. He also played for the Playboys during matinee sessions at Himalaya Hotel - the first non-white hotel for Indians and coloureds.

Over the years he became a vocalist / drummer with the Calypsoes and various other groups. The highlight of his career was being the compère for Eve Boswell’s “Reach for a Dream Foundation” show. He was also a key member of the Coon Carnival Banana Boys who won the Coon Carnival competition held in Durban in 1969.

Tickets R70 pp for the tribute dance event at the DLI Hall on April 30 at 20h00 are available from Computicket (083 915 8000). Patrons can bring their own snacks and drinks.