Leslie Kleinsmith is back – in case you hadn’t noticed – and he’s “all wound up” ready to break loose at a series of big gigs in Cape Town over the next couple of weeks.
It all starts at the Jazz On The Rocks festival at Tietiesbaai next week when he fronts his first big public gig in Cape Town since moving back home from overseas late last year.
It will be followed by two concert shows in April: one at The Baxter and the other at Nassau Centre auditorium at Groote Schuur High in Palmyra Rd Newlands.
Leslie, one of Cape Town (and South Africa’s) top performers for decades, has been living and working out of France for the last few years, doing the popular cruise liner gigs around the northern hemisphere countries.
“Living in France and performing in Europe is great but it is always, always, good to be back in Cape Town. I’m in my comfort zone here,” he said.
Although he got back around December last year, he hasn’t rushed into accepting bookings, even ones at the height of the festive season.
“Moving house, especially from overseas, is a helluva thing,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Your whole world is just an endless line of boxes.
“I thought I would sort that out before accepting any new work.”
There has been the odd gig here and there to titillate the fans. He did the popular Sunday brunch turn at Winchester Mansions in Sea Point and he has a regular Tuesday nightspot with legendary pianist Sammy Hartman at Pigalle’s Restaurant in Sea Point.
Leslie will perform with jazz guitarist Darryl Andrews’ Big Band at The Baxter on April 9 along with – wait for it – Madeegha Anders.
It will be something of a “reunion” for the two. It will be the first time they will be performing together since their starring roles in District 6: The Musical back in 1987. Madeegha (then Velma Anders) played Mary, and Leslie was Cassiem, her love interest.
“It is going to be something special,” Leslie said. “We haven’t worked it out yet, but I’m sure we’ll be doing something from the musical. We have to, don’t we? Just for old times sake.”
Darryl Andrews is the senior lecturer in jazz at UCT and has produced a number of these very successful Big Band concerts.
The jazz concert at Nassau Centre is on April 28 with Sammy Hartman. That should be something special because a Sammy Hartman concert is such a rare occasion. And Sammy Hartman is special!
“I’m in awe of Sammy’s prowess,” Leslie said. “He is the consummate professional.”
At all three gigs, starting with Tietiesbaai next Saturday afternoon, fans can expect the normal mixture of jazz and ballads, including songs from his last CD, All Wound Up.
“I can’t wait for Saturday to roll around and see all those people on the beach and in the water, listening to the music. It is such a cool gig.”
Songs from All Wound Up still gets a lot of airtime on local radio stations even though it was released in 1968.
Leslie still hopes to fulfil another recording dream . . . a compilation album of jazz standards backed by a full-on big band.
“I’d also like to do a concert like that. Maybe later this year when I can focus on things other than settling in to a new house.”