The reorganized Blue Room at Cape Town’s premium Grub & Vine restaurant on Bree Street celebrated the end of International Jazz Month (April) befittingly with another ‘April’ performing his bluesy works.
Journalist Rusana Philander was there to also capture the various Spirits hovering through the evening’s repertoire: guitarist Allou April and crooners Heinrich Frans and Sandra Butler who took to the stage. Both singers boasted a special acquaintance that has influenced their musical careers: internationally renowned, South African-born guitarist, Jonathan Butler, now residing in California, to whom this tribute concert was dedicated.
Rusana tells it at it was.
It was a true Jonathan Butler tribute like none when his sister, Sandra, joined the band on stage.
The brilliant guitarist, composer and singer Allou April wrapped up International Jazz Month of April at Cape Town’s new jazz venue, the Blue Room, with flair as the Butler ‘sound’ and legacy was upheld by vocalists Sandra and another Jonathan fan, Heinrich Frans.
Every time I listen to Allou performing, I am mesmerised at how masterfully he plays the guitar. He relayed the story of the first time he heard Jonathan Butler’s ‘7th Avenue’ song on the radio and recorded it on a cassette tape. “It was 1988 and I was rewinding the tape and listening to the song over and over. ‘7th Avenue’ is also the name of the street where Jonathan grew up in Belgravia, Athlone, a suburb of Cape Town.” Allou’s first session also included the song ‘Elizabeth’ which Jonathan wrote for his mother.
After doing his fantastic rendition of 7th Avenue, Allou was joined on stage by singer Heinrich Frans who sang ‘Sarah, Sarah’. Other stories were told: Heinrich related how he was honoured to have travelled and performed with the Grammy nominated artist in 2003.
Later, the audience delighted in a real treat when Jonathan Butler’s sister Sandra came on stage and sang his famous song: ’Falling in love with Jesus’. She recalled how she and Jonathan grew up in a family of 17 siblings in Belgravia. “Jonathan is my baby brother,” she recalled. “Every time I see candles like in the venue tonight, I think of our days growing up in 7th Avenue. Before leaving for shows at night there would always be candles burning, but when we came home later it was completely dark. I remember the night Jonathan was born and the nurse told my mother that that was to be her last baby! We have wonderful memories of growing up in 7th Avenue.”
Another friend of Jonathan Butler, Colin Daries, told me: “One day while driving in the car, Jonathan called me. He told me that Stevie Wonder asked him if he could sing his song: ‘Falling in love with Jesus’. This is one fond memory I have of Jonathan.”
That evening’s concert featured the young bassist, Charlton Daniels, who offered impressive solos that added to April’s bluesy vocals and strumming.
Another young gun, Brynne Bailey, was on keys and seasoned drummer, Damien Kamineth, added his usual flair to the tribute.
Here’s April at his best: https://www.facebook.com/613492305/videos/650518903021213/