The Jazz and Classical Encounters Festival at the Spier Amphitheatre, just outside Stellenbosch, is what brought Nyanga East born and raised Herbie Tsoaeli back to Cape Town.
It’s his love of the family who still live here that keeps him here for weeks after the festival is over.
That, and revisiting his favourite haunts in Obs. While he is here, he will also be performing at The Blue Room at Grub and Vine, in Bree street.
To describe Herbie Tsoaeli as legendary is accurate, but also limiting because he is so much more than that. It is doubtful that there are any superlatives that have not been used to describe him, so for now legendary also covers adjectives such as unique, inspiring, soulful, uncompromising, and adroit. More importantly, he is also playful and tender, but you need to see him perform to really understand what I mean by this.
On stage, close-up and personal with his beloved Mma Sandi (the name bestowed upon his double bass), this incredible musician whispers and croons, hollers and groans, as he caresses her body and dances her around the stage. This is a man in love, with Mma Sandi, with life, with music. A man in touch with his roots, deep in African soil, rich in culture and tradition. On stage, he is a joy and a revelation. On the night at the Jazz and Classical festival, he and his band carried a dancing and singing audience on waves of passion and adulation. Bra Herbs was in his element.
Promoting his new album, At This Point In Time: Voices in Volumes, will be the primary focus of his performance at The Blue Room, but he makes it clear that, “I do not have a set list, I have a waiting list – it’s channelled to me on stage”. So be prepared for music that is impromptu, improvisational, and varied. Supporting Herbie Tsoaeli will be Lonwabo Mafani (piano), Keegan Steenkamp ( trumpet and flugelhorn), and Steven Sokuyeka (trombone).
Expect songs of mood and anticipation, remembrance and hope, songs that play with musical patterns and create clusters of sound to weave spells of intricate beauty.
Herbie Tsoaeli performs on Friday December 23 at The Blue Room at Grub & Vine, 103B Bree Street, Cape Town. He will play three sets: 8pm to 8.40pm; 9pm to 9.40pm; 10pm to 10.30pm. Tickets cost R350. Bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michael Britton is a freelance arts writer.