Website HotSpots...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Days 2 and 3 of the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa was fantastic. I'll lean on Saturday's show closeout. JoBurg has an incredible zest for jazz. They love the funky as well as the straight-ahead.

Before we begin, we decided to hang with the natives.....Don't worry, we thought about treading here, but I left my steel anti-snake suit at home!!

(Don't even think about it!!)

We decided to just hang with the vendors. These guys were pretty amazing, carving out some very hip artistic designs by hand. These brothers work hard for the money and make a true honest living. What a pleasure to hang with them. We were able to break a few Rand off and support their causes as they use their gift(s) to keep food on the table.

(BB and the gang)

(Meadows and the gang)

Now to the gig.....

MM crafted a cool signature scarf donned with a NY-hipness-type of hat and a white soccer-type top, styled sweats and a pair of sport shoes. I was having fun pushing the colors with a Desigual shirt and some cool jeans. It was fun bringing the American flavor overseas and they too showed up a few fashion tricks as well.

(Baldwin/Meadows warm up the crowd)

The BB/MM Team consisted of some very cool musicians from South Africa, including Vusi Khumalo/Drums, Vuyo/Bass, and Cameron Ward/Guitar. They laid down the funky SA groove for me and Marion and the end result was a nice appreciative audience. We opened the show with "Tales From a Gypsy" and moved that right into "The Way She Looked At Me". We then did one of Marioin's tunes "Treasures", a nice mid-tempo funky vibe and it featured Cameron on guitar. This boy rocks. At 28, he loves the vintage Earth, Wind & Fire, but his solo chops
are quite lovely. You would have enjoyed it.

(Cameron Ward on the solo with the coolness of South Africa)

The next piece was the SA-born "Ukuphila", which was written when I was there in 2000. I've recorded it once, but plan to record again with some of the great artists fact, the trip was extended for a few days later to record tracks with Vusi and his brother Bakithi (who's a legend on own with his work with Paul Simon). That was a tear-jerker, both for me and for them because of their transition away from Apartheid. Some of those wounds are still fresh and
wide open.

Then there was a tribute to Michael Jackson - on Saturday, it was actually his birthday, and although sadness surrounds the tragedy of MJ, we memorialized it with "Never Can Say Goodbye". The locals there sang the song like it came out yesterday. They really loved MJ in SA. He was well appreciated!! We then slowed it down with a George Duke classic "No Rhyme, No Reason" and he proceeded to weave the crowd into the jam.

(Meadows in the house)

Next was the BB/MM Classic "South Beach", written for his 1995 album and still has that vibe. We recorded that on the "Sanctioned Bootleg" disc. Marion's solo starts mellow and quiet and funky, but launches into an explosive ending which rarely leaves one in their seats. It's like you have to jump up and cheer...Amazing how he does that.

Last was "Summer Breeze" and even in SA, the tune is still lovely. Again, we had the best time and was well received by everyone.

(What key is this in??)

I want to thank Peter Tlade for making the event come alive, as well as Rod Taylor, who bridged the gap with his residency there in 2000. Brenda Hazel from Lezah Entertainment ( sealed the deal with her multiplicity of emails and Skype calls. Thanks, Brenda!!! I met a few cool cats along the journey, and I appreciate every contributor who made life easy on this trip.
Pictures are by Prudence and Mesia, two great South African residents who LOVE JAZZ....

(Backstage with Cameron Ward, myself, our friend Kenny from Sheer, Vusi Khumalo, and Marion)

Later that night, some magic happen. When the lights were off, the cats were paid, fed...the crowds went home, it just came down to 'gettin' down in the lobby of the Crowe Plaza in Rosebank, Johannesburg. On the left of this picture was a lady who coined herself as "BreakBeats"..she was working with Vollenveider early that evening. In any event, after 4:00am, the boys were still wailing away on experimental music. Local guitar legend Jimmy Dludlu was jammin' in the lobby. When Jonathan Butler left SA about 10 years before the end of
Apartheid, Jimmy stuck around and before long, became a local legend. Jimmy has recorded state-side. His guitar work is exquisite and highly underrated, but again I say - Jammin' in the hotel lobby. On the right of him was a brother from the country of Mali and this boy was no joke. On his right was Cuban - born Raul Pineda, who worked with Lao Tizer at the Joy of Jazz Festival. His conga work was NASTY...he had my man from Mali taking notes....overall, it was a beautiful evening of cats just vibing off of each other's gifts. It was better than the concerts themselves because it was REAL!

(The Break-Beat Girl (Standing), Jimmy Dludlu on guitar, Brother from Mali and Raul Pineda on percussion, Marion Meadows and the rest of the late-night gang at 4:00am)

I will continue to blog on here as other things me, there are some cool things forthcoming with a future trip there within the next 3-6 months.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

- David