Musos looking to develop jazz skills

Nick Ford

Three young southern suburbs musos have been selected to take part in jazz master classes.

Nick Ford from Newlands, Dillon Manley from Pinelands and Joshua Nemaire from Rosebank were among musicians from across the province who responded to the call to submit online audition videos for this year’s virtual edition of the Artscape Youth Jazz Festival in October.

The master classes by industry professionals will take place online this week from Monday September 14 to Saturday September 19.

Those selected for the performance recordings in October will also participate in song-writing sessions, rehearsals and the final performance. They will be mentored by festival musical director, Amanda Tiffin and a team of jazz industry professionals.

After taking part in the programme in 2019, Nick, decided to audition again. He first heard of the master classes from his music teacher, who encouraged him to audition.

“It was incredibly fun, as well as very informative and helpful to me as a musician,” he said of his previous experience.

For his audition, the 17-year-old bass player, chose some standards he enjoyed.

“One of them was Billie’s Bounce, which is a super fun blues, which I had heard a few weeks before being played live by some musicians from Europe.”

The Rondebosch Boys’ High School Grade 11 started playing piano in Grade 1, and his interest in music grew when he started playing bass in Grade 5.

“Our school needed a bass player in our band, so I started learning and I became fluent on the bass rather quickly. Once I got to high school, my musical journey really took off and I started my current journey with jazz music.”

Tenor saxophone player Dillon said he first heard of the Artscape Jazz Festival in 2019 but did not audition as he was in matric. The first-year music student decided to audition this year and is looking forward to learning about the professional aspect of being a musician.

“I am also excited to broaden my taste to all kinds of jazz,” he said.

He auditioned with a Hank Mobley transcription, This I Dig Of You, from his album, Soul Station. The second piece he auditioned with was a standard called Lady Bird.

Dillon, 19, is currently studying UCT’s South African College of Music. He started playing the fife at 9, which he said, led him to the tenor saxophone.

“At first I dreaded going to lessons and practising. This lasted until I reached high school at Bergvliet. I had peers to play music with and teachers to encourage me. My saxophone teacher in high school, Simon Bates, played an enormous role in me playing jazz. He was always encouraging and enthusiastic when someone mentioned jazz.”

For his first-time audition, bass guitarist Joshua did two jazz standards, Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma and Spain by Chick Corea.

The first-year music student at UCT’s South African College of Music grew up in Mutare, in Zimbabwe.

Joshua, 20, said he had always had an interest in music but did not have anyone teaching him.

“I listened to and observed a lot of musicians from my church, which is where my passion began. I taught myself how to play the drums when I was 10, just by listening and trying out what I understood or could play on pots and pans at home, then gradually developed my skills and started playing drums in church. Later I got interested in the keyboard and electric bass, which I learnt through experimenting in my high school years.”

Joshua said his uncle, Owen Chimuka, had sparked his interest in jazz.

“I decided to further develop myself on bass through an online course,” he said.

Later his uncle helped him apply for an undergraduate music degree which he is currently studying.

“I am looking forward to learning how to develop myself as a musician and human being in order to nurture and showcase my talent the best way I can to the world,” said Joshua.

Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux said the programme remained dedicated to providing skills development within the jazz genre.

“This enables young jazz musicians to take the experience forward into their careers and educate others in the process.”