The brothers, Alexander, Marius and Peter (with friend Gijs Dijkhuizen) are one of the big attractions at this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz event at the Sandton Convention Centre from September 28 to 30.
Alexander, the eldest of the three siblings, revealed in an interview that fierce competition on stage between him, Marius and Peter kept the energy levels high and allowed for great audience rapport.
The renowned trio, who are in the forefront of jazz music in Holland, will be paying a return visit to Johannesburg for the 20th anniversary of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz. Laughing about the rivalry factor, Alexander said: “We try to ‘kill’ each other on stage to gain the centre spot while performing our kung-fu, hard-ball type of music.”
He explained that since an early age, there had been a healthy rivalry - ever since their father, a keen jazz enthusiast with a passion for Oscar Peterson and Art Blakey, first introduced them to their instruments.
The Beets brothers were born to play music. Alexander recalls their formative years when their father, a gynaecologist, instructed the brothers to choose two musical instruments that they would then master by practising for six days a week.
Alexander chose the clarinet and piano, Peter chose the guitar and piano, and Marius selected the bass and piano. Alexander later changed to tenor sax, an instrument with which he fell in love and would not change for the world.
While Peter, the youngest, spends most of his time touring with his own musicians, Alexander concentrates on his main job as a busy festival director, co-ordinating various cultural events.
“I still get to tour with my brothers, but I can only do four international tours a year. I do one theatre show and then do between 70 and 80 concerts in the Netherlands during the year.”
Peter, who is a highly acclaimed musician with an international reputation, undertook no fewer than 26 international tours in 2016 and there are no signs of him slowing down this year either. He has toured Europe extensively, as well as the US and Japan. He played at the famed Birdland Club in New York as a “special guest” for one week.
Peter received his first piano lessons at the age of six. After college, he studied from 1989 at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. He combined his music studies with law school, but decided to concentrate exclusively on music. From 1985, the brothers performed together as The Beets Brothers, with their debut album released in 1990. Two more followed and over the years they have built up an enormous body of work, some collaborative.
It’s not surprising then that the Beets took so easily to this art form, judging by their family pedigree.
Their mother was a music teacher, who instilled a love for this form of creativity early on and they thrived on the sounds that reverberated through their household. Many of the artists were famous American jazz icons and they grew up being inspired by them.
Alexander, who considers his work a form of holiday, promises his Johannesburg audiences a “spectacular vibe” and a “fun evening of music”.
The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz holds workshops for local musicians every year, with some of the visiting international artists. Peter is scheduled to conduct a three-hour musicians’ workshop at the Vusi Mahlasela Foundation, corner Sisulu and Pretorius Street, Pretoria on September 28 at 10am.
The event will be hosted in four stages - Dinaledi, Conga, Mbira and Diphala - and there will be well over 30 performances.
Audiences will be able to buy a two-day festival pass, providing access for Friday and Saturday.
* Tickets are on sale at Computicket at R795 for a Day Pass and R1 350 for a two-day: www.joyofjazz.co.za.