On Wednesday, members of the Delft Big Band had the good fortune to be mentored by American songwriter, producer, music arranger and pianist Nat Adderley Junior, who said he was blown away by their raw talent.
While the 61-year-old never released his own records, he is famous for working with international jazz and R&B musicians, like the legendary Luther Vandross.
Nat was Vandross’s songwriter and arranger for over 20 years.
During a two-hour workshop at Voorbrug High School, Nat listened to the band play, played some songs with with them, and spoke about the art of song-writing, reading and arranging music.
He also presented a workshop at the recent Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and yesterday was his last stop in Delft.
After posing for a couple of selfies with the band members, Nat said he was deeply impressed by their talent.
“These kids are talented. I’m speechless,” he said.
“I am so happy to be here and I just want to introduce them to the kids in the States. I enjoyed them so much, they are just so good.
“They are serious (about music); it’s no good trying to teach something to kids who don’t want to learn it. If they are into it like that, then we can learn so much.”
Since 2008, the Delft Big Band has been a beacon of hope to scores of talented youngsters in the Cape, who had no platform to showcase their musical skills.
Formerly under the leadership of jazz trumpeter Ian Smith, the band was established with the aim of getting youngsters off the streets.
Through the band, some of the members have taken part in prestigious local and international stage productions including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and District Six Kanala.
Trudy Rushin, project coordinator of the Delft Big Band, said the young musos have become the pride of their families and their community.
“They are a 20-piece band, including two vocalists, and they are now known throughout South Africa and have gone abroad and they already released one album,” she said proudly.
Nathaniel Gates, 17, from the Steenberg Big Band, said they helped him change from “rude to good”. The matriculant plays the tuba in the Steenberg band and the trombone in the Delft band.
“I have been with the band for three years now and really enjoy it,” he says.
“I never took note of things, but this has changed me a lot. I became a better person and people can see that in me,” he added.