'Pacific Express. Picture: Supplied
'Pacific Express. Picture: Supplied

Swingers Club is hosting tribute to Cape band 'Pacific Express'

By IOL/Supplied Time of article published Nov 24, 2018

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Swingers is hosting a tribute to the band Pacific Express, on Sunday, November 25. 

The Pacific Express was a jazz-rock band based on the Cape Flats of Cape Town in the 1970s. The band were the ground-breakers in both musical and political fields.

The founder members included Paul Abrahams - bass, Jack Momple - drums and Issy Ariefdien - guitar. 

The trio took over the leadership of the band. In the beginning, there were different temporary members added but the line-up settled with the addition of Chris Schilder on piano and Zayn Adam(s) and Kitty Tshikana on vocals when they took up their residency at the Sherwood Lounge (John Petersen) in Manenberg. Percussionist, Vic Higgins joined the group in the mid-'70s.

The group were informal "jazz school" when there was no such thing in Cape Town. The more experienced players inducted new young players whom they identified as talented to sit in and even later join the band. 

Such players as Tony Cedras, Jonathan Butler, Alvin Dyers, and others got the chance to stand alongside names like trumpeter Stompie Manana and alto saxman Barney Rachabane on the same stage. 

Horn players, Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen also cut their teeth in The Express (as they were also known). These two recorded with the band on the Black Fire project.

On several occasions, the group fell foul of Apartheid laws and discrimination by the state broadcaster, SABC. On one occasion they were asked to leave the stage of an international tour by Australian act John Paul Young, because the law forbade racially mixed performers on the same stage. 

The promoters, band management (Paddy Lee-Thorp) and members refused to bow to the warnings from the police, who in the end backed down despite the law, partly because the incident made the Australian newspapers.

In 2017 their debut release, Black Fire was re-issued as a limited edition collectors vinyl LP. The group's management also announced the plans to re-issue the second album on vinyl in the same year.


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