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Rainmakers take special blend of jazz to the NAF

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Afrika Mkhize, far right, and his fellow Rainmakers.

THERE was a moment of about 50 seconds at Melville’s Fete de la Musique when the world stood still. It happened on Saturday afternoon when I wandered past the main stage on Melville’s 7th Street and Baenz Oester and The Rainmakers were doing a soundcheck.

Standard Bank Young Artist award winner, Afrika Mkhize, was calmly playing his piano. We caught each other’s eye and for that moment, he was only playing for me. It was intense, yet peaceful. Eventually we both smiled and moved on.

The thing with Mkhize is that he appears to be a troubled soul, one of those musicians who have a painful life. But at that moment he was enjoying the beauty of life.

Later on that wonderful afternoon, he was joined by his fellow Rainmakers: double bassist, Oester, saxophonist Ganesh Geymeier, both from Switzerland, and drummer Ayanda Sikade from our country. And what a show.

It was gleeful. All the musicians, including the angst-ridden Mkhize, smiled the entire way through the show. Jazz is often serious and complicated with too many notes for the average listener. Baenz Oester and The Rainmakers made it a joyful experience. Their skill and professionalism is unquestionable. Their love for music is undisputed. Their celebration and joy of and for music, love and life is exquisite.

They will be playing Grahamstown on Friday and Saturday. On Friday they will be at the DSG Hall and the SB Jazz and Blues Café on Saturday. They will also present jazz workshops at the festival.

They then go to Cape Town on July 10 where they will be playing at Kesivan Naidoo’s venue, Straight No Chaser. They then return to Gauteng to play the Pretoria State Theatre on July 11 and then go to Jozi and play Niki’s Oasis on July 12 and Afrikan Freedom Station on July 13.

The collaboration happened when the musicians met at the National Arts Festival in 2011. They say that “this camaraderie and shared musical philosophy has since blossomed into a more formal collaboration”.

They have toured Switzerland and released an album called Playing at the Bird’s Eye. It was recorded live at the Basel Jazz Club in 2012.


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