The Jazz Workshop Biggish Band is playing at the Armchair Theatre in Obs this coming Friday at 21h00.

It's our monthly 'let-it-all-hang-out' affair, and at the Armchair it's starting to feel like we're performing in our own lounge with some friends -- some lounge that is, with a 19-piece band doing their nut in one corner, an audience spread around the place in groups, and in the opposite corner some locals chatting up the exotic folk who've come out of the woodwork for this event (at the last gig there were some old Capetonians who said they hadn't been to Obs in 20 years, and had to ask the band directions how to get out of Obs again!)

On this occasion we'll be featuring some more new repertoire -- might as well try the stuff out on the 'home crowd' before hitting the bright lights of the pending summer gigs with our fare:

To celebrate his last few weeks of free time before fatherhood set in, Douglas Armstrong (also of Moodphase 5ive) wrote us a pretty authentic sounding Salsa humdinger called "Rio de Huesos" which he had us believe meant 'River of Cheese' (perhaps referring to his own cheshire cat grin ..), but as it turns out some stickler for language researched the matter a bit more thoroughly and reported that it actually means 'River of Bones' (perhaps referring to the lucid/liquid trombone section?)

Chris McGregor

Then we've decided to highlight another great South African composer, one who never made it back from exile (apart from one brief visit) and is therefore unfortunately neglected, namely Chris McGregor. It appears that very few South Africans have even heard of him before, while he is truly one of the greats of SA Jazz. He left South Africa in 1964 with his band of musicians called the Blue Notes, of which only Louis Moholo, the drummer, is still alive and lives in London. Dudu Pukwana (Alto), Mongezi Feza (Trumpet) and Johnny Dyani (Bass) never made it back either, while Nik Moyake left Europe after a couple of years and passed away shortly thereafter. The Blue Notes would later form the core of McGregor's big(ish!) band, The Brotherhood of Breath which showcased him as one of the few true original Big Band composers SA has produced, who created an absolutely unique and original sound while often momentarily could be mistaken for Ellington or Mingus. The Blue Notes left a legacy, mainly in Europe, which is recognised by jazz musicians everywhere, while largely ignored in our country.

McGregor's material isn't readily available, and some of it is not easy to play, nevermind to reproduce without the original scores, so we've incorporated in our repertoire an arrangement of a simple piece he wrote for a Wole Soyinka film, namely 'Ismite is Might', arranged after the recording on Travelling Somewhere (Cuneiform. Rune 152), a recent new release of a live recording done in Bremen, Germany in 1973.

Chris McGregor's recordings are not all commercially available but a number of them can be found at The early stuff is pretty wild but really pwerful and exciting. A great introduction is the Brotherhood of Breath CD, Country Cooking, recorded in the studio (most the other stuff is live) in the late eighties. If you want to hear some samples of the Brotherhood of Breath try these links:

For future reference, those of you on the West Coast should keep in mind that the JWBB will also be performing at the Mussel Festival at Langebaan on Sunday October 5, when we will be at the Geelbek, from 11h00 until 14h00 for a lunchtime picnic event. More about that later!

So, get out the house and come hear some South African music served up by the FMR Jazz Workshop Biggish Band!

The JWBB is an amateur Big Band based in Cape Town, and lead by trombonist Jannie 'Hanepoot' van Tonder
The JWBB plays original compositions written for the band, as well as arrangements of South African Jazz standards.

Saxes: Chris Dippenaar, John Ntshibilikwana, John Thorne, Graham Thorne, Nick Green
Trumpets: Charlie Heyes, Douglas Armstrong, Dumani Katywa, Stephen Draper
Trombones: Andrew O'Donoghue, Shelley Williams, Simon Hough, Oliver Taylor
Rhythm (gt, pno, bs, dms, perc): Rick Beckman, Ralston van der Schyff, Sidney McKinnon, Ewan Inglis, Grant Jansen

More info: / 072 189 2481
or phone Cynthia at the Jazz Workshop on 424 4956
or check out

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