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Old jazz hands teach youth Print E-mail
30 August 2010

Johnny Mekoa, trumpeter and the Principal of the Music Academy of Gauteng (Photo: Dianne Tipping-Woods)

Ravi Coltrane and his band took part in a music workshop with students at the Music Academy of Gauteng in the run up to the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz. After listening to the old masters, some of the learners were able to join them in a performance.

MUSIC is not only about playing what you know and what you have been taught at school; it is also about expressing what is in your heart and what you are feeling.

Ravi Coltrane performs at the Music Academy of Gauteng
Ravi Coltrane performs at the Music Academy of Gauteng (Photo: Dianne Tipping-Woods) 

So says Ravi Coltrane, an American jazz musician who was in Joburg for the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz over the past weekend. He was speaking at a music workshop held at the Music Academy of Gauteng in Daveyton on Thursday, 26 August.

The workshop was well attended by youngsters from the area and from outside town. It was not so much about words, however, with Coltrane and his band doing most of the talking with their musical instruments.

Even though the meeting was not a contest of words, it was apparent that the students sitting in the audience understood exactly what the band was saying. There was absolute silence from the learners, eyes fixed on the band, their heads nodding and their feet tapping to the tune.

Every now and then, the learners would interrupt the group by clapping and cheering, especially after solo pieces.

A solo by the double bass player, Drew Gress, sounded like he was complaining about something. And then the drummer, EJ Strickland, answered in his solo.

The playing went on for almost two hours, with a short break in between. After the break, Coltrane and the band talked about how they got into music, and how they met each other.

"I grew up in a musical family," Coltrane explained. "My mom was a piano player and my dad played the saxophone ... It was not until later that I realised that jazz music had a way of speaking to me."

He spoke about losing his father when he was two years old, losing his brother and recently losing his mother and how all these events contributed towards his being a jazz musician.

At the end, some of the learners had an opportunity to perform a song with the band. Talking about the experience, one of the student drummers, Tumi Mogorosi, said: "At that point when I was playing, I just wanted to focus on enjoying the moment because such moments are rare."

Coltrane is the son of the bass saxophonist and jazz pianist, John and Alice Coltrane. He was born in New York but grew up in Los Angeles. His debut album was recorded in 1997.

The workshop was sponsored by Standard Bank, the official sponsor of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

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Last Updated on 08 September 2010