With the 18th Annual Cape Town Jazz Festival taking place at CTICC from 31 March to 1 April; we tip our cap to the jazz legends who played their way into the hall of fame, and shaped the legacy of jazz that we celebrate today.
Cecil Taylor – Jazz Pianist & Poet
Born March 15, 1929 in New York City, Cecil Taylor began playing the piano age six and studied at the New York College of Music, and the New England Conservatory. Despite his classical training, Cecil is acclaimed as one of the pioneers of ‘free jazz’, his famously avant-garde piano technique likened to percussion on drums. In 2013, he was awarded the ‘Kyoto Prize for Music’, and in 2014, his career and 85th birthday was honoured at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia. More recently, in 2016 he received a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art entitled ‘Open Plan: Cecil Taylor’.
Charles Lloyd – Jazz Musician
A descendant of African, Cherokee, Mongolian and Irish ancestry; Charles Lloyd was exposed to a mix of jazz and the blues while growing up in Memphis. Given his first saxophone at nine, he spent his early teens playing jazz with a band of his peers, and at eighteen, left his home town to study music in LA. Lloyd is well respected for incorporating music from other cultures into his compositions, as early as the late 1950s. But he took a break from jazz in the 70s to play on tour with the Beach Boys, only returning to the jazz world in 1986 after been hospitalized with a near fatal medical condition.
Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea – Jazz Pianist, Keyboardist & Composer
Armando Corea’s father, a jazz trumpet player in a Dixieland band, introduced him to the piano at the age of four. Growing up surrounded by jazz; he was inspired to play music at an early age, and by eight he took up drums, which would later influence his favour of the piano as a percussion instrument. Throughout his career, Corea explored various musical styles such as Jazz Fusion, Avant-garde jazz and Bebop, to name a few. He celebrated his 75th birthday in 2016 by playing with more than 20 different groups during a six-week stand at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, New York.
Herbert Jeffrey “Herbie” Hancock – Jazz Pianist, Composer & Actor.
Considered a child prodigy; Herbert Hancock studied classical music from seven, and played his first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #26 at a concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at just eleven. Although Hancock never had a jazz teacher growing up; he developed a sense of harmony which would make him one of the originators of the ‘post-bop’ sound, and one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk music. Regarded as melodic and accessible; Hancock’s songs have gained success among pop and jazz audiences alike, and in 2013 he was given the Kennedy Centre Honors Award for achievement in the performing arts, with artists like Snoop Dogg and the Beastie Boys performing his music.
Farrell ‘Pharoah’ Sanders – Jazz Saxophonist
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Sanders was introduced to jazz in high school, while playing tenor saxophone in the school band. During his teen’s, he would often sneak into African-American clubs downtown, playing with acts passing through on tour. But Sanders found himself limited by the state’s segregation and jazz standards; so, he moved to California, and then New York, playing with R&B bands. Times were tough in New York; Sanders was eventually living on the street, when band-leader Sun Ra gave him a place to stay, new clothes and encouraged him to use the name ‘Pharoah’. He finally got recognition playing with John Coltrane’s band in the 60s where he developed his avant-garde jazz style, going on to produce free jazz – famous for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on the saxophone
Roy Owen Haynes – Jazz Drummer
Named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best Dressed Men in America in 1960; Roy Owen Haynes is among one of the most recorded drummers in Jazz, with a career lasting over seventy years. Recognized by his highly expressive drumming style, he earnt the nickname “Snap Crackle” – adding his musical flair to several genres such as; swing, bebop, fusion and avant-garde jazz. Performing worldwide and recording with multiple artists, he was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1999 and has received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, At the age of 91, Haynes performed drums on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and continues to perform today.
Ron Carter: Jazz Double Bassist
Ron Carter began to play the cello at age ten, but battled to perform due to racial stereotyping of classical musicians. Not giving up his passion for music; he switched to double bass, later receiving a master’s degree in double bass performance from New York City’s Manhattan School of Music in 1961. Over 2,221 recording session later, Carter is the most recorded jazz bassist in history; winning two Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Group and Instrumental Composition on the film ‘Round Midnight’. In 2008 he joined the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York, teaching bass in the school’s prestigious Jazz Studies program.
For more information about the Cape Town Jazz Festival visit www.capetownjazzfest.com
*Photographs by Christian Weber for GQ.com