Joy of Jazz spotlight on Lenore Raphael

Raphael is heading for Standard Bank Joy of Jazz to offer some female flair at the keyboards to the musical proceedings.

This Steinway artist has performed around the world at some of the biggest jazz events on the music calendar. She also conducts workshops and master classes.

Asked what one can expect from her Standard Bank Joy of Jazz appearance, Raphael said she has written a couple of tunes that she thinks will be particularly appropriate for the occasion.

One track, Let It Go, is especially suitable for South Africa, she said, because it was originally inspired by a vision she had of a great African king.

"I'll also be playing a lot of great jazz standards like Jordu, and some other surprises. I guess you can always expect me to swing because to me, that is the essence of jazz."

This will be her first visit to South Africa and she is truly excited about the trip, adding that she also expected to go on safari for a couple of days.

She has been constantly touring and recording which has always been her dream life.

"I started playing the piano at the age of three. It just came naturally to me. I remember listening to my brother playing the piano and then going over and playing by ear what he had been playing. It was just easy for me.

"I studied classical piano but my brother also played trumpet and would bring home jazz trumpet recordings, particularly those of Clifford Brown. At the age of 12 I tried to play along with those recordings and knew I loved jazz and could do it. Later on, I listened to every jazz pianist I could but was most influenced by Bud Powell and, of course, Oscar Peterson, and later on, Bill Evans."

Raphael said she felt far more comfortable before a live audience, as opposed to working in a studio, because of the energy she absorbs.

"In the studio I am overly conscious of everything, the right notes (or the wrong ones), the atmosphere in the studio, how things are sounding when recorded, what the engineer is doing and all those things. Playing live, I only play what feels good and comes naturally and the audience does influence what I play and how I do it. I have become pretty sensitive to that and don't worry so much about everything. As my jazz teacher used to say 'If you play a wrong note, play it twice so it sounds like you meant it'!"

  • Lenore Raphael performs at The Market Theatre on Saturday, August 24. A powerhouse of South African female performers will be performing at Standard Bank Joy of Jazz including Swazi Dlamini, Asanda Bam, Nokukhanya Dlamini and Mimi who perform at The Dance Factory. Other artists this year include Sibongile Mngoma (a former Standard Bank Young Artist) who recently released a new album in which classical meets jazz and Zonke.

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Peter Feldman
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