Offshore

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The sound is a fusion of Chimurenga and laid-back jazz. The heart-felt harmonies of the three singers soar over the bubbling melodies of mbira (the famous Zimbabwean thumb piano) guitar, bass and drums.

Offshore have recently released two CDs – one as a trio and one with the Jonathan Crossley Electric Band. The trio CD, Too Many Names, was recorded by Howard Butcher at Peace of Eden studios in Rheenendal over two consecutive days in December 2006 and reflects on a year of inspirational encounters. The South African jazz artists from Offshore had the privilege of working with Gary Wittner, a US guitarist considered to be the greatest living proponent of the music of Thelonius Monk on his instrument. Gary’s influence is present in his beautiful composition ‘Lonely Holiday’ and his infectious love of Monk’s iconoclastic music is evident in the Offshore repertoire, represented on the CD by the classic bebop composition ‘Monk’s Dream’. Sam Thomas, also a North American, is a highly accomplished saxophonist with a PhD in ethnomusicology. He sat in on a Plettenberg Bay gig while on holiday with his South African wife and worked with the trio for a while thereafter, leaving an indelible imprint on the approach that the band takes to improvisation on the form. The material on Too Many Names - a translation of the exquisite poem ‘Demasiados Nombres’ by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda - is predominantly original, ranging from the Latin-influenced title track to the West African rhythms of ‘Tomboctou’ with counterpoint provided by the wistful elegy to Jonno Sweetman’s much-loved father, ‘Song for Bob’.

The trio was recently invited to give a workshop and a performance at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. The South African music artists gave a well-received series of performances at the KKNK 2007 with Jonathan Crossley and played at the Green Dolphin and Independent Armchair Theatre in Cape Town. They recently returned from Johannesburg where they gave a workshop at Wits University and played at the Market Theatre as part of the MIAGI Festival.

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