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Thursday, July 11, 2013


(Shane Cooper. Pic by Sam Lowe)

World class performance provides another feather in the cap for the Standard Bank Jazz Festival. (Review by Keith Millar)

The Standard Bank Jazz festival forms an integral part of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown every year. The cream of South Africa’s jazz musicians is invited to perform, along with handpicked artists from around the world. Audiences are treated to unique collaborations between artists and the results are often world class.

This year was no different. I was privileged to attend a performance of the Shane Cooper Quartet. The Cape Town bassist and composer is this year’s winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz. He is an eclectic young musician who has rapidly become a first call bassist in the world of serious jazz music. He has composed original music for theatre, film and television. He is also a producer and educator.

The Shane Cooper Quartet included some of South Africa’s finest young jazz players in a group of exciting talent and musical skill. Joining him on stage were Justin Bellairs on sax, Bokani Dyer on piano, Reza Khota on guitar and the incomparable Kesivan Naidoo on drums. Both Dyer and Naidoo are previous winners of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz.

The concert consisted mainly of Cooper’s own original music and featured some breathtaking playing from all the musicians. Categorised as modern jazz, Cooper’s compositions show excellent musicality, and variety, and are extremely listenable. Amongst others we heard Destination Unknown, Dead Letters and Oscillations. The later is also the title of Coopers latest CD which was released recently.

Another memorable number, entitled Shadow Player, featured the quite brilliant guitar playing of Reza Khota. It was a spectacular performance. South Africa has many great guitarists and Khota definitely rates up there amongst them.

As often is the case, the best was saved for last. An extraordinary rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog blew the full house audience away and ensured that this aged rocker went away with a happy heart.

I have no hesitation in saying that the Shane Cooper Quartet produced a world class performance on the night and provided yet another feather in the cap for the Standard Bank Jazz Festival at Grahamstown. – Keith Millar