"I have to tell you, Valencia, that I love the people in South Africa. They are unique,” international saxophonist, Andrew Young (pictured) tells me during our interview over Skype.
Young is in Austria as we chat about his upcoming performances in South Africa. I find out that it’s minus degrees on his side of the world: “I’m living in Vienna and I have a house on the lake and I’m looking at the lake right now and it’s frozen over. I know when I get to SA, I’ll have my T-shirt and shorts on. I’m coming there to work, but it’s gonna feel like a holiday,” he says cheerfully.
He is one of the friendliest people I’ve spoken to. His down-to-earth aura and personality definitely come across.
Having been to South Africa many times, Young and his band will first take to the stage for a free performance on Saturday at Wahooz on the uShaka Marine World promenade.
Forming part of his 2014 Coast to Coast South African Tour from Durban to Cape Town, his show, Jazzin’ Around with Andrew Young and the Band, will see Young performing his unique mix of rock and pop including well-loved songs such as Georgia, Baker Street, Still Got The Blues and more.
“For me personally, music is an element of freedom. That’s actually why I became a soloist because I use to play with the philharmonic orchestra and that wasn’t freedom. That was really all about somebody telling you where to sit, what to wear and how loud or quiet to play.
“You had to adapt to the conductor. But as a soloist in a band, its total freedom really. You have to obviously be considerate to the audience. It’s no good playing stuff that goes way over their heads. But really, it’s all about freedom and communi- cation as well. It’s a great way to communicate with people,” he shares.
Having lived in Durban for a few years, I ask Young what it is about that city that keeps bringing him back. “People in South African have had such bad times in the past and there’s always a smile on their faces. I have many friends in KZN and they didn’t have the easiest of upbringings.
“I travel the world and I’ve been to several cities, so for me KZN is still the friendliest place on the planet.
“And I have great support there. Even people like yourself. I’m sitting here in Austria and you’re calling me. It’s wonderful really. It’s all about the people, so I love going back.”
In terms of his musical style, Young explains that his sound can be defined as instrumental pop music. As a professional artist for years, Young finds the most important thing before taking the stage for a per- formance is to be prepared: “Preparation for a musician is everything. I think that’s why people get nervous. It’s a lesson for young musicians. If you’re prepared, then there’s no need to be nervous. Some people get stage fright and that’s never really affected me because I always felt prepared and sure of myself.”
Shedding light on his performances while in the country, Young says he wants people to remember how they felt after his show: “People will forget the notes you played, they will forget what you said to them, but they will not forget the way they felt when they left.
“My idea of music is communication and I want people to feel like they were welcomed and they really had fun and enjoyed themselves. I want them to have a good time.”
• Check out Computicket for further details on Andrew Young’s Coast to Coast South African tour.