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Focus on the Bassline

Cape Town - The Cape Town International Jazz Festival attracts a huge number of music fans every year, with tickets invariably selling out. Of the thousands who attend, not all are ardent jazz enthusiasts.

“The line-up includes artists who aren’t necessarily from the traditional jazz world, but draw from it,” says bassist and composer Shane Cooper, explaining the widespread appeal of the event which will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from March 28 to 29. In addition to performing himself, he is looking forward to seeing international acts such as Haitus Kaiyote and Erykah Badu take to the stage.

Shane Cooper gigs at The Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Credit: INLSA

The festival caters for a wide variety of artists and musical tastes. “Jazz isn’t my only thing,” says Cooper, “but it’s one of my favourites.”

He describes his sound as a mixture of groove and rhythmic elements, and modern South African jazz sounds. For his set at the festival he’ll be joined on stage by Kesivan Naidoo on drums, Bokani Dyer on piano, Reza Khota on guitar and Justin Bellairs on saxophone.

Fans can look forward to music from Oscillations, Cooper’s debut solo jazz album, which was released in August this year. It includes 10 original instrumental compositions, and was co-produced by bassist Carlo Mombelli.

In 2012 Cooper was named Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2013. “I got to play at some very nice festivals in Grahamstown and Joburg,” he says of the opportunities the prestigious award afforded him. “Some great things happened as a result.”

Cooper is currently writing new music and spending time in the studio, concentrating on jazz and more vocal work.

He is looking forward to seeing as many acts at the jazz fest as his own performance schedule will allow. His fellow South Africans on the line-up include Jonas Gwangwa, The Soil, Jimmy Nevis, Reason, The Muffinz, Ological Studies, Soul Housing Project, and Dr Philip Tabane and Malombo.

Joining US performer Badu and Australian Haitus Kaiyote will be US acts Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, The Foreign Exchange, Kenny Garrett Quintet, Chris Dave and the Drumhedz, Snarky Puppy and Carmen Lundy, with Rakesh Chaurasia from India and Jaco Maria of Mozambique.

Cooper’s career so far has seen him play as a member of Babu, Restless Natives and Closet Snare, and as a sideman for artists like Zim Ngqawana, Feya Faku, Louis Moholo and Malcolm Braff.

For Cooper and his band 2014 will hopefully include a lot of travelling. He hopes to play around the country and possibly even further afield. “We’ll hopefully get overseas: Switzerland, Sweden, Europe in general. There’s a well established network of musicians.”

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