Tony Yoko’s annual Blues and Jazz weekend is in its third year now, and is already something of an institution. It started this year in Pretoria, on Thursday 22 January and finished in Sasolburg on the following Monday, with three days at the Theatre on the (Mandela) Square in be-tween. His international visitors this year were Jean van Lint and Dirk van der Linden, who make up half the ‘Swing Dealers’, back in their native Belgium. The other two members who were not here are Vincent Mardens on saxophone and Jan de Haas on drums. While I have no idea what that foursome sounds like, they were very competently replaced on Sunday by local regulars Justin Holcroft on saxophones and Tony him-self on drums, to give a similar format.
The concert was ‘jazz’, and was great fun, as well as being mind blow-ing jazz – mainstream, leaning towards bebop here and there, plus a few old standards brought up to date. The two Belgians are real characters, in addition to their jazz skills, so mayhem frequently raged on stage.
Jean plays excellent double bass and sings, as well as having written several of the numbers. Dirk plays grand piano, Hammond organ, and guitar, all terrifyingly well! For one number on the Hammond organ, Jean put the bass down after the first few bars, strolled round to the grand, and carried on on that.
Cat Simoni joined them for the second half, and fitted into the light hearted vibe to the manner born. She is also good on keyboards, as well as singing, and winged it on the Hammond organ for one number when Dirk was back on the piano – it got quite confusing!
The Belgians have been staying with Tony, and have met Hadedas, which Dirk calls ‘Adidas’, given his European base. He does a brilliant hadeda impression too. He wrote a ‘Hadeda Blues’, practically on the spot, which had its world premier (and possibly only?) performance on Sunday, with him adding the hadeda squawks here and there, and also managing to get similar noises out of the Hammond organ…
Tony says he made the mistake of letting them find his wine cellar; and as a result, he’s been getting about four hours sleep a night while they’ve been here, so he’s going to sleep for a week, once they’re on the plane to Belgium. All I can say is the whole audience on Sunday night would say it was a small price for him to pay on our behalf, and I’m sure the audiences on the other nights would agree.