"It's about finding your tribe,” explains bassist Werner Spies, one of the members of the Charl du Plessis Trio who return to the Atterbury Theatre in Lynnwood, Pretoria, for the release of their latest album under Swiss record label Claves – Baroqueswing Vol. 2.
It was all about finding a niche in the tough instrumental environment and, cleverly, Du Plessis with his classical and jazz training, found a combination that appeals to both musical movements. Spies saw a TED talk about tribes and believes we should aim for those that have similar passions, not lower the temperature to net a wider audience. If it’s authentic, they will come. And they have.
They can say, as they do in a press release on their website, that they perform “from Zeerust to Zürich, Stellenbosch to Shanghai”, because they have as many fans internationally as locally.
Spies (bass) and drummer Hugo Radyn, graduates from TUT’s musical department, were spotted by Du Plessis in 2007 and this trio have been evolving ever since.
With this their fifth CD (Trio, 2007, Shanghai Brunch, 2010, Baroqueswing, 2013 and Gershwin Songbook, 2015) it is also their first international album recorded at an annual classical festival in Switzerland where they regularly perform.
“We are all musicians who aspire to bigger and better things,” notes pianist Du Plessis as he explains that because the recordings are live and the setting a church in Switzerland, especially Radyn had to perform with strict discipline. But that’s who these performers are. They wanted a space where they could perform in theatrical style, not as part of dinner background music. Their style was sharpened and their experience grown with Du Plessis Nataniël’s accompanist for the past 16 years and the trio part of his annual Emperors shows for quite a few years.
“We didn’t want to dumb down our music, but we needed an audience,” explained Du Plessis about their strictly trio performances. They knew if they went for a flavour-of-the-month approach it would also fizzle out. But once they started performing and the repertoire grew, Du Plessis was delighted to find that often some of the most challenging numbers would be the ones that would attract the most compliments. He knows it is also this kind of inclusion that adds substance to their music and performances.
They know that CDs are on their way out and yet, they’re thrilled to test the international waters. “This is our first time out there with an album,” says Du Plessis and it will be easy to measure their success and whether this works from them. It’s about working with a professional team and a marketing machine that is more extensive than what they usually have.
They have worked hard on their brand, built up a dedicated following locally and internationally and pay homage to their audiences.
“We never take them for granted,” the trio agree because one of their best compliments was from a manager in Shanghai who told them that they were the first jazz outfit to communicate with their audience.
Personally, when tuning into the music, my surprise was the quality of the crossover. On any level that’s not a genre I opt for because it often includes mediocrity in its description, but not this time.
It is the quality of the performers and the arrangements, the deftness of the musical proficiency, and the subtlety with which the two genres are balanced that impresses. Du Plessis giggles when he tells that Nataniël always says, that while he slips out for breakfast, the trio record another album. But they still feel, and album sales underline that, people like listening to this kind of music when driving or simply needing to tune out of today’s world. It’s also a smart way to grow their repertoire.
They will be showcasing this album on Sunday at the Atterbury Theatre at 6pm. Book at Computicket. The CD is available at concerts and online: iTunes
Article's source: Pretoria News, by Diane de Beer