Professor Mike Campbell, left, and students Brendan Kierman, centre, and Nick Green, right, got together to produce and play on Campbell’s first CD ‘Journey’. Picture: Eddie Adams
Cape Town - One of Cape Town’s famous sons of jazz, Dr Mike Campbell, has released his first CD, called Journey, after being in the music industry for the past 30 years.

Campbell, who is an arranger, composer and musical director, started the UCT jazz school in 1989 and will be retiring from lecturing at the end of the year but will not be retiring from music.

What made his first release even more special for him is that he did it with the help of two of his students from his original jazz class at UCT, Nick Green and Brendan Kierman.

“It was really nice to have Nick and Brendan work with me on this project. They were the first brass players and we have remained close over the years. I recorded several pieces of music over the past seven years to produce this CD,” said Campbell, almost in disbelief.

“It was unbelievable déjà vu to be part of this project,” said Kierman, who is an accomplished trumpeter.

Campbell holds degrees from UCT and the University of North Texas and his work has been heard frequently on radio, film, TV and live productions in South Africa and overseas.

He writes prolifically for full orchestra, big band and smaller combinations.

He has led and worked with bands in Europe, the US and throughout southern Africa, and conducted numerous live and studio productions for stage, TV and the record industry.

He initiated jazz studies in 1989 at the SA College of Music at UCT, where he is associate professor and head of jazz.

When asked why it took this long for Campbell to release his first CD, he said: “I have always been collaborating with other people on their projects and just could not find the time to work on my own music.”

Campbell added that he feels “energised” by this project and when he retires there will be more time to write and produce his own music.

These days the local jazz legend focuses on big bands, which consist typically of between 17 to 20 players playing saxophones, trombones, trumpets, piano, drums, guitar, percussion and bass guitars.

The big band genre has tradition and history which originated in 1910, peaked in the 1940s and then took a dip in late 1960s.

“As a genre it is very much a niche market but has gained popularity with all the high school bands and festivals in the Cape and the hugely successful Delft Big Band project.

“This album has has been a joy to finally make. Big band music has always been a key focus of my work in UCT's jazz programme and over the past 30 years.

"I’ve had the pleasure of playing with some great musicians, many of whom feature on these tracks,” said a proud Campbell.

[email protected]

Weekend Argus