Independent Online

Monday, June 27, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Start a listening journey in this jazz conversation

Join multi-award winning Durban-based pianist Melvin Peters and his former student Naresh Veeran in Jazz Conversations On My Lawn on Saturday 28 May at 2pm. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Join multi-award winning Durban-based pianist Melvin Peters and his former student Naresh Veeran in Jazz Conversations On My Lawn on Saturday 28 May at 2pm. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 21, 2022

Share

Durban - Melvin Peters wants more people to realise jazz is “listening” music rather than something soothing in the background.

Next Saturday, he and his former pupil, Naresh Veeran, will promote this message when they hold Jazz Conversations on My Lawn ‒ and Veeran wants “to play in tune” with his mentor.

Story continues below Advertisement

International veteran and multi-award winning Peters was a student at the University of Natal in the early 1980s and began building his enviable performance career when he toured the United States with his university band. The Durban-based pianist has shared the stage with many jazz legends, both in South Africa and abroad. He is also a former jazz education lecturer and holds qualifications from Harvard University.

“It was always such a joy to be able to teach jazz, and I think the timing was perfect because I had completed my studies at the University of Natal, and after that, I got a job. I always told my students that in order to succeed, you have to be able to read. Along the way, there were always students who were destined for bigger things, and Naresh was one of them,” says Peters.

Story continues below Advertisement

His family was not generally musically inclined, but his father had great appreciation for music. Melvin fell in love with the piano when he used to watch his older brother taking piano lessons.

“My father used to bring a piano teacher into our home for my older brother. I used to watch my brother play, and he seemed to be having fun. I told my father that I also wanted to play, and he said yes. Subsequently, my younger sister also started taking piano lessons.

“I acknowledge my father for making it all possible and getting me going. He made a big sacrifice and a huge investment in my life. He encouraged me to carry on.”

Story continues below Advertisement

Veeran also grew up with a father who loved music, but he says Peters will always be his number one inspiration. It was love at first sight for Naresh, and he fell in love with jazz at the tender age of 13, when he first saw Peters playing at a wedding.

“I saw Melvin playing at a wedding in St Mary’s Church when I was 13. I thought to myself: ‘damn, how do I do that?’. Then I met him in university nine years later.

“I needed the basic piano skills, so I spent about two years learning from Melvin. He was the one that inspired me to play piano. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him,” says Veeran.

Story continues below Advertisement

Veeran will perform his “final year” undergraduate examination pieces from 30 years ago and says he simply plans on “playing in tune this time” in a combination of tenor saxophone and flute.

Jazz Conversations On My Lawn is Veeran’s initiative to share his Morningside garden and Durban’s amazing weather with musicians, picnic lovers and fans of live music on the last Saturday of the month, starting next Saturday. The purpose of these sessions is to try to encourage the audience to experience the joy listening to jazz can bring.

“We, as musicians, are the ones who have to spread the gospel of jazz. We should educate people and make them understand exactly what jazz is all about,” says Veeran.

Jazz Conversations On My Lawn starts at 2pm. Audiences are invited to pack a picnic, a blanket and favourite tipple. Entrance is R100pp. There is limited space, so book early on 082 376 0799. The address will be supplied on booking.

The Independent on Saturday

Share