23 April 2017
It’s drummer Jack Momple’s birthday later this week. It’s a significant one. It’s a BIG one. It’s a biblical one.
It’s one where you would expect him to be putting up his feet and, taking a diep skyf and looking back on a fulfilling career that started way back in the Sixties.
But no, shortly after the big birthday bash his family is planning, Jack, along with other members of the Cape Jazz Band, will be jetting off to Borneo for that country’s international ethno-jazz festival.
Jack will have Ramon Alexander on keyboards, Spencer Mbadu on bass, Marco Maritz or trumpet, Heinrich Frans on vocals and percussion, Mark Fransman on saxophone and guitar, and Shaun Duval on saxophone.
The Borneo Jazz Festival will feature jazz bands from Asia and Europe. It is a feather in our cap for a Cape Town jazz band to be invited to such a prestigious gig.
The Cape Jazz Band, although a loose arrangement of musicians, has a permanent leader in Jack and producer Paddy Lee-Thorp. It has been around for about 10 years and initially featured the late Robbie Jansen.
It was created as an informal jazz school for up-and-coming musos to learn about jazz as an art form and the nascent genre, Cape jazz that has ghoema as a central element.
Ten years ago the Cape Jazz Band performed at the Genting Jazz Festival in Malaysia. That group featured rising stars Jonathan Rubain, Kyle Shepherd and Cameron Ward. Now it has newbies in Marco and Heinrich.
The group’s last recording, Musical Democracy, has been a big hit in Cape Town.
According to Ramon, the patrons at Borneo will be treated to the likes of Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen compositions and other material from the Mountain Records catalogue – and Musical Democracy of course.
Although he has other interests now – like sculpting, building and farming on a small scale – Jack still does regular gigs around Cape Town with whoever is looking for a drummer with his experience.“I’ve done lots of corporate gigs lately,” he said. “One organisation saw a video on YouTube of our performance in Malaysia in 2007 and hired us.
“This Borneo gig, is just another trip. It doesn’t faze me. My band can play anywhere in the world as far as I’m concerned.”
Healthwise, Jack says he is as fit as a fiddle bar a glaucoma condition that is impairing his vision and hampers his driving ability a bit.
“I’m not ready to retire. It’s not about age. It’s what you can still do before you die, that’s what counts. I know a lot of guys who are sitting in front of the TV and the computer, seeing out their last days . . . they walk down a flight of stairs puffing.
“As far as I’m concerned, their lives are over, they’re just oxygen thieves.”
Jack was a founder member of Pacific Express back in the Seventies and has played with the various incarnations of the group over the years.
The last time Express played was at the Cape Town Jazz Festival in 2014. Does he think the Pacific Express is history?
“Maybe, maybe. But the music will live on. In fact, Heinrich will be doing a few of the Express songs at the Borneo gig.”
We are playing mostly from the Mountain records catalogue, some Basil Coetzee’s Umlazi, Sabenza’s CT Blues, Robbie’s Versions of Georgia and What’s Going on, Hoya-tjie-Bongo, and obviously some tunes that this CJB released in 2013.
For Ramon, the Borneo festival will be his first overseas trip where the primary purpose is to play music.
Saxophonist Shaun Duvall (son of Baby Duvall who was the guitarist and singer with The Flames before Blondie Chaplin) is back in the line-up, after previously joining Jack for Genting.
And if you’re around Jack anytime on Saturday, April 29, lay one on him for a happy 70th birthday!!
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