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Musicians up close and personal - again

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to donvino & jonathan

Bassist Jonathan Rubain and saxophonist Donveno Prins will be standing at the front of the stage at the Baxter Theatre next week, not hiding in the background in the house band.

BASSIST Jonathan Rubain has some funny stories to tell about working as a musician. Like, there was the time he… wait, no, it would be rude to tell that story when not everyone has given permission.

Or how about the time saxophonist Donveno Prins went along with… oops. Maybe not.

The two longtime friends could tell you some naughty stories, but that is not what this second chapter of Intimate Nights with Jonathan Rubain and Don Vino is all about.

This is second iteration of a show they first conceived as Intimate Night in 2011 and also did at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival last year.

It worked so well, they wanted to do it again and now it comes to the Baxter Theatre for a few nights, hence the plural name. And, the different spelling for Prins’ first name is because he is working on imprinting a stage name in the ears of the public.

to rubain & prins

“We are both entertainers, so it will be semi-theatrical, semi-spontaneous, that kind of feel. Not a produced show,” said Rubain, 29.

“Most of the show is going to be new songs, entirely different to the first: Intimate Nights is basically about us, our journey. It’s personal,” explained Prins, 34.

Here he means musical journey, since this is not a theatrical show delving into how they grew up or learnt to become musicians, but a music performance showcasing their excellent musical bond.

Rubain has written several of the tracks with Prins in mind. Melody comes first, followed by chords, when Rubain composes, and both of them are heavily influenced by gospel music, not strange considering they started off playing in the church (and both still play with various gospel bands. Both will perform with Kirk Whalum when he travels to Joburg next month).

“Why we are performing some of Taliep (Petersen) and David’s (Kramer) songs, and Robbie Jansen’s songs, is our relationships we had with them, and still have. These songs we are playing serve as… how they impacted our careers,” said Prins.

They originally met through pianist Kyle Shepherd and when Rubain started his own band he asked Prins to be part of that group:

“That’s where the real relationship started,” says Prins.

“Because I then started composing with him in mind. If you listen to my album there’s a whole lot of saxophone on it,” says Rubain.

“It sounds like a saxophone album,” says Prins about Happy People.

Okay, now they are literally starting to finish each other’s sentences.

“He puts his love, his beautiful spirit, his kindness... into a song,” says Rubain.

“Sjoe...” interjects Prins.

“He’s just an amazing person,” Rubain finishes.

“What do you want?” Prins starts to chuckle.

“I’m being serious,” Rubain protests and they both start to laugh.

“That’s what he does to a song. My favourite song of myself that he does is a song called Believe. There’s absolutely no bass, it’s just a plain saxophone song. Whenever I hear that song I want to cry because he brings everything of himself into the song, as if it is his own, as if he’s had an experience with the song,” Rubain gets serious.

While not every track they perform for the show will get as detailed an explanation as the one above, “it’s about that, an intimate experience” is how Rubain explains what audiences can expect.

“The songs we play pretty much reflect our friendship, that’s why he always writes with that in mind.

“There’s another song at the end of the album,” says Prins.

“For Arthur,” suggests Rubain.

“No, the other one. Just sax and bass,” asks Prins.

“Oh, Thank You,” says Rubain.

“That is one of my favourite songs because it also, for me, kind of saying ‘thank you’ to him, for the years of friendship,” says Prins.

• Intimate Nights with Jonathan Rubain and Don Vino Chapter 2, Baxter Concert Hall from Thursday to Saturday at 8.15pm.


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