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Monday, April 22, 2013


Rhumbelow Theatre has another winner with a tribute to the Brubeck Legacy. (Review by Keith Millar)

The idiosyncratic Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo has come up with another winner with its current show, featuring the very accomplished Melvin Peters Quartet paying tribute to jazz superstar Dave Brubeck.

As a pianist and composer Brubeck was regarded as one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz, and was described as one of jazz’s first pop stars. He passed away a day before his 91st birthday in December last year.

Throughout his career Brubeck was known as a innovative musician who used unusual time signatures and rhythms to produce musical gems which gained popularity way beyond the realm of jazz lovers. Classics such as Take Five, Blue Rondo รก la Turk, Unsquare Dance, Three to Get Ready and It’s a Raggy Waltz are but a small sample of the huge musical legacy left behind by Dave Brubeck.

Also part of the Brubeck legacy is the influence his music had on the careers of many pianists throughout the world.

One such pianist is our own Melvin Peters who has become one of South Africa’s leading exponents of jazz music. Joined by three superb musicians in Jonathon Judge (sax), Ildo Nania (double bass) and Bruce Baker (drums) he produces an exciting and memorable programme of the best of Brubeck’s music. This dynamic quartet played with consummate skill and I am sure they would have made Brubeck proud with the quality of their performance.

I was however a little disappointed that Peters played an electric keyboard rather than a proper piano. While the space limitations of the Rhumbelow stage may be the reason for this, I felt that the sound produced had a distinct electronic quality about it and was too reverberant. It certainly lacked the resonance and body provided by a piano.

Another legacy left by Dave Brubeck is his four sons who are all also talented musicians. There is a interesting link here in that Darius, the eldest son, was Melvin Peters’ tutor in the 1980’s while he was teaching at Natal University. In recognition of this, the Quartet played Darius Brubeck’s excellent composition, October. This was a certainly a poignant reminder of the influence the Brubeck family had on the jazz music scene in Durban.

Remembering Dave – A Tribute to the Brubeck Legacy is an outstanding production. The ambiance of the quirky Rhumbelow Theatre resembles a smoky jazz club and, with an excellent jazz quartet playing unforgettable music, one can’t fail but to have wonderful night out.

Performances take place at the Rhumbelow Theatre as follows on April 26 and 27 at 20h00 and on April 28 at 14h00 and 18h30. Venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner, and braai fires will also be available. There is limited secure parking and booking is essential. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises).

Tickets R100 booked through Computicket or contact Roland on 031 205 7602 (h) or 082 499 8636, email or visit Rhumbelow Theatre is situated in Cunningham Avenue off Bartle Road. – Keith Millar