Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tutu Puoane introduces African warmth to Porgy en Bess Jazz Club

Tutu Puoane brengt Afrikaanse warmte naar Porgy en Bess (Nederlands) - Tutu Puoane introduces African warmth to Porgy en Bess (English)

I just want to keep doing what I do, which is swing the hell out of a tune. (Tutu Puoane)
Hans Koert

The South African vocalist Tutu Puoane charmed with her voice and charisma the Porgy en Bess Jazz Club audience at the New Years concert in Terneuzen, in the southwest part of The Netherlands, scheduled on Sunday afternoon the 16th of January, 2011. Tutu Puoane, now living in Antwerp, Belgium, had brought her band, featuring her husband Ewout Pierreux at the keys, Nicolas Thys on double bass and Lieven Venken on drums.
Tutu Puoane ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)
Tutu Puoane is born as Nontuthuzelo Elaine Puoane in Atteridgeville (South Africa), May 1979, and raised in a musical family in Mamelodi township of Pretoria ( South Africa.). As a young girl she heard at home the music of John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley which she labelled as "old people's music". Forgive her about that! She started to sing in downtown Johannesburg, and after a year at the Fuba Academy she started at the Unive
rsity of Cape Town with vocal training by Jelena Reveshin, a jazz vocalist herself. One of the first things she learned from Jelena was: Don't want to sound like Whitney Houston - Get rid of that. While she studied at the university, she was discovered by the Dutch jazz piano player Jack Van Poll, who invited her for a tour to Holland. She got the opportunity to study with Rachel Gould at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. In 2004 she received the most prestigious jazz award of South Africa, the Young Artist of the Year award of the Standard Bank ( Standard Bank Jong Kunstenaar vir jazz ) for which she was labeled as die volgende generasie van Afrika-sterre gaan lei ( = the next generation to lead the African stars.). The South African press was lyrical about her performances at the festivities around this award, but had some remarks about the European musicians that accompanied her: Maar Puoane, wat talent en temperament in gelyke groot mate ontvang het, het haar eie idees gehad. (= But Puoane, who has reveived talents as well as temperament, has her own ideas). Eerstens het sy verras met die samestelling van haar ondersteuningsgroep - sonder uitsondering leliewit Europeƫrs wat nog niet tevore 'n voet op die Moederkontinent gesit het nie. ( = First of all she surprised with her selection of accompanists - all, without exceptions, white Europeans, who had never visited Africa). Die Burger, ons nuwe koerant vir 'n nuwe wereld ( = Our new newspaper for a new world) from July 2004, written in Afrikaans, continued to say that she had made a good choice: Wat Puoana wel .... raakgesien het, behalwe hul vergelykbare jeugdigheid, is 'n talent en passie vir die grenssorskrydende, universele taal van jazz. ( = But Puoane was right: Except their common youthfullness, they all had the talents and passion to play this cross-border, universal language of jazz). She brought one of her accompanists from 2004 to Terneuzen, piano player Ewout Pierreux, her husband now. They have a young kid and live in Antwerp now.
Tutu Puoane ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

She started the first set in Porgy en Bess with the tune Quiet Now in which she welcomed the Porgy en Bess audience as only a great jazz vocalist can do: singing and improvising. In a mix of Dutch and English, she told how she remembered her first concert in Porgy en Bess: Ik herinner me dat deze paal rood geschilderd was, isn't it? ( = I remember that this post was red painted, isn't it?). I guess I like that better - Could someone paint it red again?).

Nicolas Thys ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

She happened to be an engaging personality. She sung tunes like I Know you Know and a great tune, entitled 36th/10th, written by bass player Nicolas Thys, who lives, like drummer Lieven Thys, most of the year in New York City. I've been there two times - each times, after 4 days I got home sick .......... Tutu sighed. But now I know you live there - I've got a place to go .......... Tutu is influenced by vocalists like Sarah Vaughan ( She could swing like crazy) and Billie Holiday ( for the emotion she could squeeze from a phrase) she told in an interview with Kwanele Sosibo (from The South African Guardian), but also Joni Mitchell, for the poetry in her lyrics.

Tutu Puoane with her African jug: Just give me some time! ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Tutu sung an Ewout Pierreux composition, Simple Truth, a bass-vocal duet, with Nicolas Thys on double bass, which impressed and was, for me, one of the highlights of the concert. Is dat niet mooi? (= Isn't that great?) I fell in love with that bass - My dream is to make a record with a bass player only ......... and after a pause ..... Not particulary with Thys, any bass will do ....... she excused.

Lieven Venken ( photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Another song, that impressed, was dedicated to their young daughter, entitled Song for Mpho, sung in English and Xhosa. During the concert she sung some more tunes from her last album Quiet Now, like Mangakene, and H
lompa Bophelo. Als je wilt kun je ons vanavond aan de deur meenemen (= If you like you can take us home tonight at the door), she suggested at the end of the concert, to point the audience to her latest album Quiet Now. The audience didn't let her go before she gave an encore, which was a song, entitled Lakutshoni 'Langa, a South African traditional, which means something like In the eve of the sunset, which she previously recorded with the Frits Bayens Big Band for a private release - a Dutch amateur big band she loves to sing with.

This New Year concert with the Tutu Puoane Quartet was a great starter for the Porgy en Bess Jazz club for 2011 and the audience and the Porgy en Bess crew ( all volunteers)(!) could look back upon a great concert.

Hans Koert

The South-African vocalist Tutu Puoane has been inspired by great jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Joni Mitchell. She showed at a concert at the Porgy en Bess Jazz Club in Terneuzen, in the southwest part of The Netherlands, that she could entertain the audience with her voice and charisma together with her leliewit ondersteuningsgroep ( "white accompanists") as they say in Afrikaans. Keep Swinging joined this succesfull concert. If you like to read about such meetings, follow the Keep Swinging blog at Twitter or ask for its free newsletter.

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