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It’s been quite a journey for piano man Charl du Plessis, who is launching his latest CD/DVD, Pimp my Piano, with two concerts at Pretoria’s Atterbury Theatre on October 19 and 20, and another one in Stellenbosch early in the new year.
Making it as a solo piano player is a tough task, but from the beginning Du Plessis knew that he wanted to be on stage.
It all began with him as Nataniël’s accompanist, a role he still plays, which taught him the ropes and increased his stage sensibility.
He has a doctorate in classical music, teaches jazz at Pretoria University’s music department, and has a jazz group, Trio, with whom he travels the world regularly, from China to Europe. He is doing two recitals in the next few months.
“I decided very early on that I wanted to do music my way. I wanted to be true to myself, and not adapt or compromise for commercial reasons,” he says.
He feels he has reached a plateau, but a happy one. It’s not stagnant, but he has defined who he is, and from this platform he can launch new ideas – musically.
And his mind is constantly in motion as he comes up with plans for the future.
“I already have a concert tour planned for next year,” he says.
Speaking about this album, he says he is accompanied by his two Trio colleagues, Werner Spies (bass) and Hugo Radyn (drums), as well as Juan Oosthuizen (guitars), Lizelle le Roux (violin) and Jeanne-Louise Moolman (viola).
“I have tried to create a sound that’s unique,” says this maestro of the keyboard.
He has selected a host of composers and songs ranging from old piano favourites by Mozart, Jobim (Girl From Ipanema), Debussy and Scott Joplin, which he has pimped into fresh and contemporary sounds.
On top of that, and further adding to the eclecticism of the collection, he has borrowed tunes from movies like Chocolat, and also included numbers by Lady Gaga.
The songs will transform what you thought about piano music forever, promises Charl.
He promotes it with the catchy “tunes you know, rhythms you don’t”, and when you listen to the album, it’s exactly that.
You will probably recognise most of the songs, but Du Plessis improvises and takes them to a place that is quite extraordinary.
With such a variety of music, probably no one listener will like all the music, but then it’s the kind of album that should appeal to a wide audience, and I can see couples twirling across the floor.
It’s not exactly ballroom, but it will captivate the two-step and foxtrot brigade, as well as some heavy rockers. It has that kind of range.
Other Du Plessis concerts still on include the Gershwin Songbook with Musanete and the Trio; Beethoven Tango with Zanta Hofmeyr (violin); Charl du Plessis Trio Plays Bach with Werner Spies (bass) and Hugo Radyn (drums); and Latin Quarter with Juan Oosthuizen (guitar).
He will be in Alzenau, Germany, in November as part of the Fränkische Musiktage Festival, and will perform Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto with the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra on November 16 and 17 in the Musaion.
• Pimp my Piano will be on at the Atterbury Theatre on Saturday (8pm) and Sunday (3pm). Bookings at Computicket for both this and the Musaion recital.