By LINY KRUGER
Jazz in the Quad at the US Woordfees / 9 March, 21h30 / Visuele Kunste Vierkant, Stellenbosch / Tickets at Computicket
Schalk Joubert & band, featuring Sima Mashazi / Schalk Joubert (bass), Mauritz Lotz (guitar), Kevin Gibson (drums), Ramon Alexander (piano), Sima Mashazi (vocals)
Schalk Joubert is a multi -award winning musician, record producer and composer. He has worked with countless artists and bands ranging from The Crash Test Dummies to Hugh Masekela and a huge variety South Africa’s most prominent musicians for more than 20 years. He has composed and produced music for several national and international television series, theatre productions and films. He has played on hundreds of records as a studio bassist and continues to be active in the South African Music industry.
You are one of SA’s busiest musicians. Where did your love from music come from?
As far back as l can remember, l used to love music. All types of music. I used to beg my mom as a young child to let me stay up 10 minutes later than my bedtime just so that l could hear the opening track of a TV series called Van Der Valk.
What was your first gig and what was memorable about it for you?
My first paid gig was in 1994 with a band called the Wild Possums at a place called Upstairs in Stellenbosch. It was also the first gig of the Springbok Nude Girls. Adriaan Brand later became their trumpet player, but he was playing for the Wild Possums that night. It was memorable for me as we only played six songs but we received an encore from a full house. It convinced me that I wanted to do a lot more of that!
Where did your love of jazz originate?
That came later. I loved Led Zeppelin and more improvised progressive rock music. Then someone gave me a Jaco Pastorius album, and that changed my life. The first few bars of him soloing over the Miles Davis/Charlie Parker song called Donna Lee was something l did not know was possible on the bass. I knew that l wanted to do it too. It lead to a rapid discovery of jazz and modern improvised music.
When did you first play with Sima Mashazi and what happens when you are on stage together?
Sima and I have known each other for more than a decade. We instantaneously liked each other and over the years we have collaborated more and more. We both have open musical personalitiesand that means that the creative process is quick, infectious and natural.
The Cape Town Music Academy – tell us more about it and how you are involved?
The Cape Town Music Academy is a not for profit organisation that creates performance, workshop and recording opportunities for musicians in the Western Cape. I am the music director. At the moment, we are involved in various projects and we are proudly producing three different music productions and a Xhosa children’s theatre show at this year’s US Woordfees in Stellenbosch.
How many shows to you play a year? And how many do you think you have played in your music career to date?
It would be impossible to answer. My personal record is 42 shows in one week at the Klein Karoo Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn in 2001. In total, it would add up to many thousands of shows. Nowadays, I generally play about 150 shows a year.
What have the highlights been so far?
Touring the world with many international artists and working with some of the most prolific songwriters and South African musicians, ranging from Hugh Masekela, Zolani Mahola and David Kramer to Jack Parow and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Music remains a constant challenge and inspiration. I still love the fact that I can play with my friends, like Albert Frost, Nick Turner, Kevin Gibson, Ancient Agents and many more on a constant basis. They continue to inspire and challenge me.
What was the strangest thing that ever happened at a show?
I think when my buddy and great guitarist Neil Benjamin jumped up and down on a festival stage and fell right through the stage. The band carried on playing, and he thn came running up the stairs. The show carried on as if nothing happened. I suppose it was just a stage he was going through… Also, at a world music festival in the Genting Highlands in Malaysia, we had to share the backstage area with a tiger. It was pretty bizarre.
What was the most disastrous thing that ever happened at a show?
The police barging in after we have played only three songs at a sold-out show of ours at the Orbit Jazz Club in Johannesburg and chasing everyone out because the fire escape light was supposedly not working. They closed the place down and threw everyone out of club and generally behaved like thugs towards the band and the customers. It turned out to be for far more sinister reasons, too.
What was the funniest thing that ever happened at a show?
At one show there was some discrepancy between the band member’s setlists. We all started different songs at the same time. It was a cacophony and no-one could figure out what was wrong until it came to a grinding halt. Then the drummer counted the song in again and the same thing happened until the band leader called the song title and we had it third time lucky. The audience must have thought we were wasted…
What other shows are you involved with at the US Woordfees, apart from Jazz at the Quad?
I am the musical director for a big show at Spier called Musiek & Liriek: 40 Jaar Later. This show celebrates the great songwriter movement from the late Seventies and features iconic artists like Anton Goosen, Jannie du Toit, Zolani Mahola, Valiant Swart, Sima Mashazi, Laurinda Hofmeyr, Herman Kleinhans, Vasti Knoesen and Lise Swart. As well as a killer band featuring Mauritz Lotz on guitar, Kevin Gibson on drums, Melissa van der Spuy on piano and myself on bass.
What are your plans for 2019?
To continue growing as a musician and to make a difference to the musical environment of the Western Cape.