The Hanepoot Big Band, an 18-piece African Jazz outfit, was started in 2001 by Jannie 'Hanepoot' van Tonder to offer Cape Town's jazz musicians the chance to play original compositions and other SA jazz in a traditional big band format, and to provide a platform for local composers to write music for the big band format, and have their material performed.
Over the next 8 years the band performed over 90 concerts at theatres, bars, schools and festivals, including the Jazzathon 2003/2004/2007 at the V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre, the Cape Town Festival 2003/2004/2007, the 2003/2007/2008 Kirstenbosch Winter Concerts, and at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre summer concerts series in Stellenbosch in 2003.
Over the years the band has performed new compositions by Mertyn Barrow, Kesivan Naidoo, David Ledbetter, Douglas Armstrong and Hanepoot himself. In addition to the original pad, they also play new arrangements of interesting South African jazz tunes, including classics by Dollar Brand, Hugh Masekela, Dudu Pukwana, Kippie Moeketsi, Chris McGregor, Errol Dyers and Zakes Nkosi.
With this repertoire the Hanepoot Big Band developed into a well-rehearsed unit, with a unique sound combining a truly African concept with a standard swinging big band sound.
The Hanepoot Big Band has also featured guest appearances by a number of Cape Town's top musicians including Robbie Jansen and Robert Sithole. In July 2003 the Hanepoot Big Band was appointed the 'official voice' of Cape Town jazz & classical music station Fine Music Radio 101.3
In 2008 the band procured sponsorship from the Swiss Council (Pro Helvetia) to commission a series of 5 big band arrangements of the music of a 1950's Sophiatown legend, Zakes Nkosi, as well as a new long-form original composition. The arrangements were completed by George Werner, Shaun Johannes and Jannie Hanepoot, while Douglas Armstrong, already a prolific composer for the Hanepoot Big Band, composed "African Jazz Suite #1, in 4 movements".
In 2010 Jannie Hanepoot moved to Montagu, a village in the arid Klein Karoo region, for personal reasons, and the Hanepoot Big Band went into hibernation. Now, 6 years later, with the support of Stellenbosch Woordfees, the band has come back together, hopefully for more regular performances in the future ..
Background: Jannie 'Hanepoot' van Tonder has been a member of groups such as the African Jazz Pioneers, the Gereformeerde Blues Band, Winston's Jive Mixup as well as having worked with South African music stalwarts like Vusi Mahlasela, Basil Coetzee, Sean Bergin, Errol Dyers, David Kramer, Nico Carstens, James Phillips, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jimmy Dludlu etc.