”Written byNick Trethowan
The Loneliest Monk Jazz Jams is one of the best platforms for musicians in Cape Town and if you’ve been to a jam you know the hot sparks the performers make. Intimate, electric, the Jam is something to inspire muso’s to perform their art in a way thats for them, by them. The added cherry on top is that we get to be there.
But I get ahead of myself, first, we need backstory.
The year was 2018 and a pallor had been cast on the live scene. The fevered pitch of Cape Town’s live scene had reached its height 5 years passed and the uncertain nature of the industry’s future loomed. Before the axe finally dropped for most in 2020. the scene up until then increasingly lost energy as real estate prices soared. For all of Cape Town’s immense talent, it became harder and harder to find active live venues and communities within the city. Yes, there were events and yes the industry continued, but given the contrast from the late noughties to the end of the 10’s, there was a distinct decline.
With a very familiar New York-style late-night jazz jam format, The Loneliest Monk Jazz Jams would open the night with a host band or house band and after a short set, the stage would be opened to anyone who dared or wished to join in.
Jazz jams are pretty standardized in the way the repertoire is expected for its musicians. Playing off the Great Record Songbook and familiar South African standards, the space the jam creates allows the players a woven formula to be able to play with one another without knowing one another.
Following the late-night format, musicians would pull through after their various gigs around town and TLMJJ would run until 3/4 AM playing high-energy jazz music, funk music, improvised music, and South African music and 5 years later the jam is still going strong.
Same format, and same venue, The Loneliest Monk Jazz Jams have kept things fresh by experimenting with mixing house bands be recognized acts, with house bands being stable, being mixed up every performance as well as experimenting with jams being once a month, once a week, twice a month, that’s their thing, they mix it up. Improvisation based on previous knowledge is the key characteristic of TLMJJ.
After a hiatus due to COVID, the Loneliest Monk group is back together now, a year later, and it’s feeling good. Good seeing familiar faces, and listening to amazing music and getting the performances back on twice a month at Evol.
The house band as it stands consists of James Nevin on Guitar, Keegan Hollywood on the drum kit, Luke Verrezen on bass guitar, Ryan Stopforth on piano (and guitar) and Tumi Pheko when he is in town sets up on the long cornett. As well as honourable and notable past players: founding member Christian Chandler and Athi Ngcaba, both being out of Cape Town for the past while.
Bringing that same energy and spirit to Up Close and Personal, The Loneliest Monk Jazz Jams will be lighting up the evening as one of our main headliners. An amalgamation of their house band and notable players, we’ll be in for a taste of their usual magic and we can’t wait.
Complimenting our lineup perfectly as headliners, we’re gearing up for their performance in a big way. Catch them live at Up Close and Personal on the 03 of June.