Jazz group Skyjack kicks off Eastern Cape tour tomorrow

JAZZ GENTS: Skyjack are, from left, Shane Cooper on bass, pianist Kyle Shepherd, Mark Stucki on saxophone, drummer Kesivan Naidoo and trombonist Andreeas Tschopp Picture: Reto Andreoli
JAZZ GENTS: Skyjack are, from left,  drummer Kesivan Naidoo, Shane Cooper on bass, Mark Stucki on saxophone, trombonist Andreeas Tschopp and pianist Kyle Shepherd Picture: Reto Andreoli

The Eastern Cape doesn’t only breed jazz talent, it keeps it coming back for gigs like this week’s tour by Skyjack, an extremely hot quintet made up of two Swiss musicians and three former Standard Bank Young Artist award winners for jazz.

The collaborative jazz outfit, Skyjack, is in the middle of a national tour to launch its CD but two members – double-bass star Shane Cooper, 31, and drummer-cum-composer Kesivan Naidoo, 37, will be on home turf for at least a night as the band plays in Cooper’s old stomping ground of Port Elizabeth and Naidoo in his native East London.

Cape Town pianist, Kyle Shepherd, is the third South African in Skyjack, with Switzerland adding the brass in Marc Stucki on tenor sax and Andreas Tschopp on trombone.

“I am super excited to be able to bring Skyjack back to SA for this tour,” said Cooper, an old Victoria Park (VP) boy, who cut his teeth on the Port Elizabeth music scene and left VP in Grade 11 to focus on music and finish his matric through Damelin.

“We’ve been growing as individuals in our own projects and every time we get back together for a tour we are invigorated by what these developments yield in this group formation. The album represents a journey that started in 2013, and we hope to keep building from here.”

Jazz fans, who are regulars at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown may have seen one, two or even all five of the members and the South African trio certainly each have an amazing pedigree: Naidoo was the Standard Bank Young Artist for jazz in 2006, and Cooper followed up with the same accolade in 2013, and Shepherd in 2014.

If you were in the audience when Cooper played his Young Artist set in 2013, then you will know how good Skyjack was – and that was on one of its first outings as a group.

Now the Bay gets the chance to hear them three years more fluid, focussed and fabulous.

The dates are: Knysna on September 13, East London on September 14, and Port Elizabeth on September 15.

“We’ve got one day off in two weeks,” Cooper said this week ahead of the first night in Durban, and he hopes audiences will enjoy the contemporary jazz on the album called Skyjack.

“It’s contemporary jazz, so it includes a mix of African jazz and European jazz and it all gels together.”

Apparently it’s the first time Naidoo will be back in East London since graduating with his MA in music from Boston this year.

However, in between touring, they  have together managed to tour Switzerland twice. Last year they won the prestigious BeJazz TransNational competition, bringing them back to perform at BeJazz Winterfestival in 2016 in Berne.

Skyjack’s tour is supported by the Music Mobility Fund, a funding mechanism administered by Concerts SA, which offers opportunities for SA musicians to undertake live music tours.

ý Skyjack dates: Muse, Knysna, 8pm, September 13, tickets R150, bookings: candiceludick@gmail.com; Stirling Auditorium, East London, 7pm, September 14, R100, bookings: info@skyjackmusic.com; Black Box Theatre, 33 Chapel Street, Port Elizabeth, 8pm, September 15, R120, bookings: 082-682-3571, robynn.gatheringevents@gmail.com

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