Saturday, 23 May 2015

Hilton Schilder :: Rebirth (2015)

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Hilton Schilder was born into a musical family in Lotus River, Cape Town. He is the son of esteemed South African jazz pianist Tony Schilder (1937-2010) and nephew of Ebrahim Kalil Shihab (formerly Chris Schilder) of Cape Town’s groundbreaking jazz-fusion group of the 1970s Pacific Express. He was given his first instrument in the form of a drum at the age of three.

Hilton’s musical trajectory has taken him through a variety of groups and collaborations in the capacity of both a composer and a performer. He partnered with Mac McKenzie in the mid-80s to form the Genuines, a rock outfit that channelled the folk music of the Cape through punk. The band’s first two releases on the Shifty label tethered them to the broader Voëlvry movement and cemented their legacy in the history of South Africa’s alternate music scene.

Post-Genuines, Hilton immersed himself into jazz and was a member and contributing composer to Robbie Jansen’s Sons of Table Mountain. In the early 2000s, he performed with the Goema Captains of Cape Town and released his first solo album entitled No Turning Back on Mountain Records in 2003. He was the project leader of the South African and Swiss collaborative jazz ensemble Iconoclast in 2008.

In 2010, Hilton fought cancer and lost a kidney in the process. While in hospital, he heard what would become the composition “Rebirth” during a morphine-induced lucid dream. Waking up bedridden and without access to an instrument, he memorised what he could recall of the piece by imagining a piano keyboard on the ceiling.

“Rebirth” is a spiritual masterwork by a seasoned musician at the height of his powers - a sonic journey of sweeping light and shade that is both personal and universal in the depths it traverses. The piece is issued over two sides of a vinyl 7-inch single in a sleeve featuring Schilder’s distinctive ink drawings and is also the title track of a solo piano album.

Hilton Schilder - Rebirth (2015)
1. Rebirth
2. Tesna Part 15
3. Birsigstrasse 90
4. Tesna Part 5
5. The Art of Flying

Hilton Schilder Selected Recordings 2003-2009

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hilton Schilder :: Birsigstrasse 90 Live

Hilton Schilder performing at "The Night of the Schilder" in Cape Town on 16 April 2015. The event at Loop Street's Eye marked the 7-inch vinyl release of the single "Rebirth" from the eponymous solo-piano album. This surprise pop-up performance accompanied a listening party that took in Schilder's back catalogue (Genuines, Goema Captains, Hilton Schilder Group, RockArt, All In One) and included recordings by his father Tony (Tony Schilder Trio) and uncle Ebrahim (Chris Schilder Quartet, Pacific Express). "Birsigstrasse 90" appears on the Rebirth album and was composed at the song's namesake address in Basel, Switzerland.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Sathima Benjamin :: Africa (Hilton Schilder Trio)

Sathima Bea Benjamin performing "Africa" with the Hilton Schilder Trio on 1 May 2013. Benjamin's appearances in Cape Town in mid-2013 culminated in a string of celebratory events in July that marked the South African launch of the reissue of her 1976 album African Songbird and included a performance at Tagore's Jazz Bar and a screening of the film Sathima's Windsong at the Labia Cinema. Her magnus opus "Africa" was recorded for African Songbird following her return to South Africa after a long period abroad. The Soweto Uprising of 1976 precipitated a second period of exile in which she lived in New York City for 34 years. She returned to the city of her childhood in 2011, making Cape Town her home once again until her death at the age of 76 on 23 August 2013.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Sathima Benjamin :: Music (Cape Town Goema Orchestra)

Shaken by the Soweto Uprising in 1976, jazz singer and composer Sathima Bea Benjamin left South Africa in 1977 with her then-husband Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) and settled in New York City for 34 years. She returned to the city of her childhood in 2011, making Cape Town her home once again and continuing to perform until her death at the age of 76 in August 2013. She appears here on 8 December 2012 in the first of a pair of performances with the Cape Town Goema Orchestra. Written by Benjamin, the spiritual ballad "Music" was recorded for her canonical African Songbird album in 1976 and revisited for LoveLight on Benjamin's own Ekapa label in 1987. The composition was arranged for orchestra by conductor George Werner.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Cape Town Celebrates Sathima :: 13, 14 & 16 July 2013

South Africa’s inimitable jazz vocalist and composer Sathima Benjamin returned to Cape Town in 2011 following 34 years in New York. Benjamin and former husband Abdullah Ibrahim moved to the United States with their two children in the wake of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. Their relocation effectively became exile as the apartheid government revoked their citizenship for participating in cultural work for the liberation movement. This month, Cape Town celebrates Sathima Benjamin’s homecoming with series of events that include a live performance, a film screening and lots of great music.

Saturday 13 July 2013 :: African Songbird Relaunched
Recorded in the year preceding her departure from South Africa in 1977, African Songbird was Sathima Benjamin’s debut release and a canvas for her own compositions. Unavailable for over three and a half decades, June 2013 saw the release of Matsuli Music’s reissue of the landmark Afro-jazz long-player on vinyl, CD digipak and digital-download formats. To mark the occasion of the album’s relaunch, Sathima Benjamin & The Hilton Schilder Trio will perform at Tagore’s Jazz Bar on the evening of Saturday 13 July. The performance will be streamed online via Pan African Space Station Radio.

Sunday 14 July 2013 :: Sathima’s Windsong Film Screening
This 2010 film-portrait of jazz vocalist Sathima Benjamin traces her musical journey from Cape Town to New York City via an astonishing morning in a Parisian recording studio with Duke Ellington in 1963. A reflection on displacement, exile, longing and belonging, Sathima’s Windsong premiered at Cape Town’s Encounters International Documentary Film Festival in 2010 (Runner-Up Audience Award). This one-off 6.15pm screening at the Labia-on-Orange on Sunday 14 July sees filmmaker Daniel Yon and Sathima Benjamin in attendance for Q&A.

Tuesday 16 July 2013 :: Future Nostalgia Spins Afro-Jazz Classics
Cape Town’s vinyl enthusiast collective Future Nostalgia dedicates a night to classic South African jazz from African Songbird to Underground in Africa on Tuesday 16 July. Recordings from the As-Shams label are sure to abound as Matsuli Music’s Matt Temple takes a guest slot on the decks. Future Nostalgia gatherings are held every Tuesday at the Mahogany Room from 8pm.

Sathima Benjamin & The Hilton Schilder Trio
O’Driscolls, Cape Town (May 2013) | Photos © Calum MacNaughton

Friday, 18 January 2013

Derek Gripper :: Jarabi (Toumani Diabaté)

Derek Gripper’s arrangement of Toumani Diabaté’s “Jarabi” at the Long Street Slave Church in Cape Town (May 2012). This performance sees a 21-string kora composition from Mali finding its expression on a six-string classical guitar at the same venue in which Diabaté performed in 2009. Gripper’s work as a “translator” of the West African kora appears on his 2012 album One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, which is available from New Cape Records on Bandcamp.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Hilton Schilder :: Selected Recordings 2003-2009

Music video for "Narrow Escape" featuring Hilton Schilder on vocals. Since his tenure with the Genuines from 1986 to 1993, Hilton Schilder has assembled a rich and eccentric solo and collaborative discography. Here are some selected recordings to seek out and investigate:

The Hilton Schilder Group - No Turning Back (2003)
1. No Turning Back (H. Schilder)
2. For Tony (H. Schilder)
3. Cole (H. Schilder)
4. Mr. Cool is in the Lounge (H. Schilder)
5. Tone Nails (H. Schilder)
6. View from the Top (H. Schilder)
7. Why? All this Time (R. Jansen)
8. Red Rock City (G.S. McKenzie)
9. Patricia (H. Schilder)
10. Tesna (H. Schilder)
11. Email to the Ancestors (H. Schilder)
12. Why? Come on World (R. Jansen)
RockArt - Future Cape (2006)
1. Oom Jaap Jaap se Stamboom (H. Schilder, A. van Heerden)
2. Nuwestraat (H. Schilder, A. van Heerden)
3. Groovy Groovy (H. Schilder)
4. Russel (H. Schilder)
5. Changes (H. Schilder)
 6. Fourth Eye (H. Schilder, A. van Heerden)
7. Bitterlewe Intro (H. Schilder)
8. Bitterlewe (A. van Heerden, A. Bongelo)
8. Feeling Like a Stranger (H. Schilder)
9. Ladies' Night on Car-Atom (H. Schilder, A. van Heerden)
10. Druiwepiek (H. Schilder)
11. Bitterlewe Live (H. Schilder, A. van Heerden, A. Bongelo)
The Iconoclast - Live at the Bird's Eye (2008)
1. Sweet as Hani (H. Schilder)
2. Langarm (R. Ekes)
3. Homer (H. Jephtah)
4. Cuba Castro (H. Schilder, N. Scalliet)
5. G's Tension (G. Beuerle)
6. Pang Salie (H. Schilder)
7. St. Lucia Draai (H. Jephtah)
Hilton Schilder - Live at Bridgetown (2009)
1. The Healing (G.S. McKenzie, H. Schilder)
2. Elements of Surprise (H. Schilder)
3. Tesna 5 (H. Schilder)
4. Mammie 1 & 2 (H. Schilder)
5. Tesna 3 (H. Schilder) 

(See Rebirth for 2015 recording)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Goema Orchestra :: South Atlantic Suite & Guest Composers

The December 2012 edition of the Cape Town Goema Orchestra showcases an expanded version of McKenzie’s “South Atlantic Suite” (which premièred in September 2012) as well as new orchestral works by Ana Strugar, Maxim Starcke, Reza Khota and Keenan Ahrends. December’s line-up also sees the exciting addition of jazz legend Sathima Bea Benjamin.

With paternal roots on the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, Sathima Benjamin is a fitting guest at the orchestra’s Saturday evening performances (7.30 for 8pm on 8 and 15 December at the SABC Studios Auditorium in Sea Point). Benjamin, who returned to Cape Town in 2011 after 34 years in New York, will perform her poignant compositions “Africa” and “Music” (arranged for the orchestra by George Werner). Both of these titles appear on Benjamin’s African Songbird LP of 1976, which is being prepared for reissue in 2013 by Matsuli Music.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Hilton Schilder :: The Wikkelspies

Hilton Schilder is known for embracing digital technology as evidenced by his electronic work with Alex van Heerden (1974-2009) under the RockArt moniker. He is also no stranger to exploring the sonic potential of ancient instruments hewn from wood and wire, which he dubs "single-string technology." Pushing the invisible frontiers of tradition, Schilder partnered with bow craftsman Bien Petersen to develop the Wikkelspies (or “shake-spear” as he cunningly translates its Afrikaans name). A flat board with seven spring-mounted mouth bows arranged in parallel, the device rests on the player's lap while strings are struck by sticks and the board is shaken with the knees. "This is the only instrument in the world like this. We invented it 6 months ago," says Schilder demonstrating his creation on a pop-up stage in front of Cape Town's National Museum in September 2012.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Derek Gripper :: ’56 (Ali “Farka” Touré)

Derek Gripper launched the “digital” version of One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali at the South African Slave Church Museum in May 2012. Playful yet poignant, the album sees the unprecedented arrangement of 21-string West African kora music on six-string classical guitar, exploring the compositions of Mali’s Toumani Diabaté (who performed at the Slave Church in 2009). The album also features Ali “Farka” Touré’s “’56,” which is derived from a Guinean revolutionary song. From Conakry to Timbuktu to Cape Town, “’56” speaks of music’s ability to shrink time and space, uniting three seemingly disconnected African states and, coincidentally, a period of 56 years, into a single performance. Night on Earth is being released on CD this month and is available from New Cape Records on Bandcamp.