8 July 2019
Jazz guitarist Harry Peacock, singer Zelda Benjamin, keyboardist Ibrahim Shihab Khalil . . . all on one stage. That’s almost 200 years of musical entertainment experience right there!
Throw in bassist Tino Europa and drummer Roy Davids and it’s well over 200 years. No matter how you slice and dice it, you’re going to get good music if you’re listening to that quintet.
That’s is how it panned out for the crowd at Spiro’s Restaurant in Hout Bay last week when they treated the crowd to what one patron described as “real cool jazz”.
It was essentially a diet of mainstream Sixties jazz standards – Stella By Starlight, There’ll Never Be Another You and East of the Sun (And West of the Moon).
Ordinarily, this would just be another jazz gig featuring five local artists. But what is worth mentioning is the fact that two of the five – Harry and Zelda – are in their 80s. That’s right, octogenarians. And Ibrahim (Chris Schilder to those who know him from the Sixties) isn’t far behind. He is 73 tomorrow.
All three have been playing and performing for more than 60 years.
We should celebrate and support the achievements of our “mature age” musicians who are still plying their trade.
According to Harry Peacock, the gig was a one-off at the moment but he is hopeful the restaurant will make it a regular Sunday afternoon event when summer rolls around.
“It was pretty good all-round,” he said. “There was a lot of experience on that stage. We didn’t have to do much in the way of rehearsals because we all know the jazz standards and the crowd loved it. It is good to see that there is still opportunity to play those old tunes.”
For Zelda, it was the “atmosphere” in the place that blew her away.
“There was a such a good vibe and the audience really appreciated what we doing,” she said.
“It’s been a few year’s now since I’ve played with Ibrahim – he was still Chris then – but he is still pure magic, notwithstanding the health issues he has.
“We got together for a sort of rehearsal but we chatted more than we played. We settled on songs that he was very familiar with.”
In the end Zelda had a set of about 15 songs that included Call Me Irresponsible, Day By Day, It Could Happen To You, It Might As Well Be Spring, and But Not For Me.
Ibrahim said it was a gratifying experience playing those old jazz standards for an audience who loved every minute of it.
“I couldn’t believe it, they gave us a standing ovation. It gave me such a good feeling,” Ibrahim. “It’s been many years since I have done a gig like this and appreciated the opportunity of doing it with Harry, Zelda, Roy and Tino.
“I especially loved the improvisation parts. It’s the best I have played in a long time. The drummer and the bass player really ‘cooked’ and Harry was going great.
Ibrahim turns 73 tomorrow and his career is going through a bit of a resurgence of late. In recent months he has released an album, Essence of Spring, with fellow keyboardist Ramon Alexander and also featured at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival three months ago.
After the jazz festival gig, he was interviewed by an American music magazine journalist who was so impressed with his playing that she encouraged him to work on a solo album.
“That’s what I am doing now, putting together some original tunes and interpreting some standards,” he said.
Cape Town may be producing some exciting young talent but we must never, never forget our veteran entertainers. They can still deliver – just ask those people who caught their act at Spiro’s in Hout Bay last week. Let’s hope they can land a regular gig there soon.
All material on this blog is copyrighted. Permission is required to re-publish any part of it.