What the Sekunjalo Delft Big Band have been up to
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Sekunjalo Delft Big Band was established in 2008, in an initiative by the Department of Social Development and an NGO, called COAST (Cape Outdoor Adventure Service and Training), aimed at offering Delft’s vulnerable youth an alternative to the anti-social influences around them.
Legendary jazz trumpeter, Ian Smith, was chosen to head the project as its Musical Director.
Although the funding was withdrawn after six months, Smith continued working with the core group that had shown great talent and interest, developing their music knowledge and technique to what you can experience today.
READ: #CTIJF2018 - Countdown to the 2018 Cape Town International Jazz Festival begins
First eight years
For eight years, Smith honed the musical talent of his young charges, teaching them to read music and play big band arrangements, as well as exposing them to a performance circuit that generated further opportunities.
The original band members, many of whom are in the current line-up, attribute much of their exposure to life outside of the confines of Delft to him.
Over the years, a few significant steps were taken, which established the music project as not just an NPC (2011), but also as a sustainable youth development project, with the addition of a feeder band and a music academy (2015). The band recorded its only CD to date, in 2015. Copies can be bought at most live performances, as well as online, at www.loot.co.za.
Winds of change
In late 2016, Ian Smith left the project, which signalled the end of one era and the beginning of another. Female vocalist, Adelia Douw, also left the band that year, to pursue her blossoming solo career.
Sekunjalo, which had supported the band in various ways throughout its existence, became the sole funder of the project, and towards the end of 2017, the band was renamed Sekunjalo Delft Big Band.
Exposure, locally and abroad
Enjoyed by musicians and music lovers alike, Sekunjalo Delft Big Band (SDBB) has performed extensively throughout Cape Town and surrounds. Members of the band have performed abroad, in Sweden, France, the UK, Germany, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Cape Town audiences have enjoyed memorable performances of the band at various events, like Moonstruck (on Clifton Beach), the Heidelberg Silver Mountain Festival, the Hermanus FynArts Festival, The Grand Café and the V & A Amphitheatre.
The Brass Bell and The Crypt have hosted the band on a regular basis. Throughout 2017, the band added their special sound to many corporate, private and charity events in and around Cape Town.
The current line-up reflects the growth of the band - they have a full 18-piece line-up of permanent band members, most of whom have been in the band since 2008. On trumpets, they have Lorenzo Blignaut, Marcelle Adams, Sheraaz Allen and Tevin Dreyden.
On trombone are Calvin Louw, Shakier Roberts, Godwin Blignaut and Miles Stewart. The saxophonists are Abubakar Petersen, Jaun Van As, Nashville Ruiters, Tshegofatso Matlou and Zhivago Hagan. Completing the line-up are Thembelihle Dunjana (piano), Jarrod Fortes (guitar), Brendon Hendricks (bass guitar), Mark Williams (drums) and David October (vocals).
Band manager, Nashville Ruiters, said, “All the new members – Jarrod, Thembi, Zhivago and Tshego - started out as deps (substitutes). It worked so well, that they became regular deps, and then joined the band. It’s awesome to have a full band of permanent members. We believe this band is going to go places and we are working hard in our practice sessions, so that when the opportunities come, we’ll be ready!”
Teaching the next generation of musicians
Most of the band members teach at the Sekunjalo Delft Music Academy (on Saturday mornings, at Rosendaal High School, in Delft), where they have an opportunity to plough back into their community the knowledge and skills they have learnt over the past ten years. A few teach music at local primary schools, as well.
After a decade of playing big band music, the members are viable session musicians, often hired to play with other bands or in theatre shows.
In 2017, Lorenzo Blignaut, the band’s lead trumpeter, toured locally and abroad (Hong Kong and Germany), as part of a production of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
Tenor saxophonist, Abubakar Petersen, moved to Dubai for a few months last year, where he worked as a musician. Also in 2017, Jaun Van As and Sheraaz Allen did a few gigs in Pretoria. Nashville Ruiters and Lorenzo Blignaut played in the show, “A Tribute to Taliep Petersen’’. Nashville, Lorenzo and Jaun played in the “50th Anniversary of The Rockets” show.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Sekunjalo Delft Big Band has performed twice before at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) - in 2010 and 2015. At the 2017 CTIJF, the band was well-represented, with five members playing in the Sekunjalo Edujazz Band, and three members playing on the main stage in ‘’Camillo Lombard Presents a Cape Town Showcase”.
According to the band’s project coordinator, Trudy Rushin: “Our band is super-excited about playing at the 2018 Cape Town International Jazz Festival! Come and show your support, at the Basil ‘Manenberg’ Coetzee stage, on Friday 23 March, at 18H45. After you’ve enjoyed them live, you can take their music home with you, as their 2015 CD, “Delft Big Band Now”, will be on sale at the merchandise kiosk.“