Classic jazz at the Castle

MUSIC TO MAKE YOU THINK: The Chris Thorpe Jazz Quartet performed the penultimate Classics at the Castle performance on Sunday to a full house of jazz fans. From left on the stage were Virgil Matrass on piano, Bob Thorpe on bass, Rick van Heerden on sax and clarinet and Chris Thorpe on drums Picture: ROB KNOWLES

Not everyone’s cup of tea but, if you enjoy jazz then the Richmond House Music Room was the place to be on Sunday March 1.

The Chris Thorpe Jazz Quartet, comprising of Chris Thorpe on drums, Bob Thorpe on bass guitar (his double bass was still in Makhanda), Virgil Matrass on piano and Rick van Heerden on sax and clarinet, played some very difficult and challenging pieces at the penultimate Classics at the Castle performance.

From compositions like Caravan (Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol), A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie) and Chameleon (Herbie Hancock), the quartet made light work of the pieces and also added their own “style” to the music, as is demanded in the jazz milieu.

Chris Thorpe is a music teacher at several Makhanda schools including DSG, St Andrew’s College as well as Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare. He has plenty of experience in various bands and many genres of music inkling jazz, pop, rock, Latin and several others.

The rest of the quartet are all equally talented and experienced with Bob Thorpe being a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, vocals, bass and violin), Virgil Matrass is a world-renowned pianist, and Rick van Heerden is a saxophonist with a stellar reputation who has played all over the world at various venues and in various genres.

The atmosphere was sharp with anticipation as the musicians took to the stage to perform, and could be seen tapping their feet and nodding their heads as each piece was played.

Jazz is a type of music that originated from black Americans in the early 20th century. Originally played on homemade instruments and without written music, the intention was for the players to feel free to improvise, and this has remained essentially true up to the present day.

Syncopated rhythms and a strong beat often characterise jazz music, and bass, woodwind, drums and particularly piano are the instruments usually associated with the genre, and this was the case on Sunday.

When impresario Sue Gordon announced that this would be the penultimate Classics performance, the audience was a little subdued and taken aback. Classics has been a regular feature of the Kowie calendar since 2007. However, Gordon intimated that Saturday May 16 was a date to remember as that would be the last Classics at the Castle.

Leave a Reply