Don Vino Prins. Picture: Supplied

It has been a long-held dream for Cape Town-based saxophonist, Don Vino Prins, to headline his own gig at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

The announcement of his inclusion on the 2019 line-up was not only welcome but just seemed like the right timing. This year Prins celebrates 20 years in the music business as the Jazz Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Growing up in Elsies River, religion played an important role in Prins' life and he started off playing the banjo in church. A friend introduced him to Christmas Choirs and Malay Choirs and he even played the trumpet for a while. But it was at the tender age of 15 that he discovered the saxophone after listening to jazz legend Robbie Jansen.

Prins got his start playing with local bands in Elsies River and soon found himself performing at jam session at a nightclub called G-Spot in Goodwood. Soon he was asked to teach at Abdullah Ibrahim’s M7 academy of music where he taught saxophone and learned to read music. He eventually toured with the M7 school band Jazz Ambassadors.

Over the years he has performed at various music festivals around South Africa and on stages across the world with artists such as Jonathan Butler, Tevin Campbell, Lloyd Cele, Judith Sephuma, Lira, Hemelbesem, Lady Smith Black Mambaza, Jimmy Dludlu, and many others.

He has toured places like London, Sweden, Dubai, Nigeria, Australia and Kenya with assorted bands and collaborated with artists like Gerald Veasley, Jimmy Earl Perry, Cece Peniston and Kirk Whalum.

Prins, who is the resident saxophonist in Jonathan Butler’s South African Band and a member of TopdogSA, doesn't restrict himself to only jazz, but also plays gospel and R&B and is not afraid to experiment. Prins is not only a sought-after collaborator but also a keen philanthropist and businessman. 

His first theatre production was performing in The Kramer Petersen Songbook in 2008 and he has gone on to create his own productions like his debut theatre production From Elsies to the World, #saxyvibes and Intimate Nights with regular collaborator, bassist Jonathan Rubain. The Intimate Nights collaboration led to a live DVD and CD recording of the show at the Baxter. His third version of #saxyvibes later this year will be a way to celebrate 20 years in the music business with the fans.

When he isn’t performing on a stage, Prins is most often found in a classroom, teaching music. In 2010 he created a community music school in Delft, training youngsters to read music and perform. He also works extensively with Camillo Lombard on the training and development elements of espAfrika, which form part of the Jazz Festival.

"All The Way," Prins’ debut album, was released in August 2018. Several of the artists who worked with him on the album tracks will join him on the CTIJF stage for a performance-based around his debut tracks.

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Track 07 - Happiness is.

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