Nice Coat & All That Jazz FeaturedWritten by Ryan Swano
Tourists from abroad, from other parts of Mzansi and even a large number of Capetonians often only know the city you see in brochures.
Soli Philander takes you on a journey through the Mother City using rhyme and poetry delivered in a conversational style delving into the nitty-gritty of what makes Cape Town an experience that is much more intricate than any brochures can ever do it justice.
Not that he mentioned it or even needed to mention it to the select number of guests consisting of friends, media and entertainment industry personalities, all invited to the special preview of his show at Kaleidoscope Café in Claremont, but the name of Soli Philander's show Nice Coat is a naughty play on the Afrikaans translation thereof. Nice Coat in Afrikaans is 'Lekker Jas' or colloquially pronounced, 'lekke djas' which besides describing a functional piece of overwear, could also have all sorts of sinister meanings depending on the context in which it is said.
Nice Coat has had a few short runs at various other venues around Cape Town. This version of Soli's show however includes performances by The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band which in fact is the permanent resident band at Kaleidoscope Café.
Kaleidoscope Café is an event and dinner venue specialising in a butter chicken curry dish which is absolutely divine and you have the option of ordering or bringing along your own wine to enjoy with your meal.
It very much depends on the nature of any given show that will determine whether dinner is included with the cover charge or charged separately. Kaleidoscope Café also doubles as the premises of the Kaleidoscope Church of which Glenn Robertson serves as pastor.
Many of you who are familiar with Soli's on-stage antics have probably gasped at the thought of Soli Philander, who readily admits to having a bit of an acid-laced tongue, performing at a venue which doubles as a church but rest assured, this specific version of Nice Coat was genuinely family friendly without sacrificing any of the sharp edges that go along with Soli's brilliant wit.
Soli starts off with describing various scenes and sights around Cape Town revealing facts which humorously paint the starkly contrasting realities of our city's residents.
For starters, a very large number of Capetonians have never actually seen the postcard view of Table Mountain from the vantage point captured for well over a century by so many camera lenses and for much longer by the keen eyes of landscape painters.
He then, as with any other topic throughout his show, delves further into the many peculiarities around the topic which in this case is the relationship between The Mountain and the people living at its feet.
He further ventures into describing the quirks of a number of different character types one could possibly and most probably will come across in greater Cape Town in such a way that one would be forgiven for at first thinking that Soli is trying to entrench negative stereotypes.
On the contrary; you will quickly realise that when describing 'the good, the bad and the ugly' of our city, he does so with passion, empathy and even manages to display a sense of endearment for the peculiarities of some of those characters who many people choose to either ridicule or despise.
Soli's hour long monologue is definitely not monotonous and there are no plateaus that allow your mind to wander as his abundance of punchlines are effectively used to introduce every next exciting topic.
A seasoned performer, he effectively moves around the stage making eye contact with different sections of the audience in a way that seems purposeful but not exagerated, so that though he speaks alone, it on some levels feels like a two way conversation.
With brilliant use of intonation in what can be described as 'conversational poetry' with really clever rhyme structures, his witty social commentary has a heavy undertone of creating awareness of our dire need to establish a much more egalitarian society with a focus on social cohesion and social justice.
The show also has a sense of "freshness" to certain parts of the material in that it includes takes on specific contemporary and newsworthy issues and as life in Cape Town can all of a sudden on any given day dish up new surprises for the city's residents, we are sure the show will in future evolve and adapt accordingly.
WATCH Soli Philander in Nice Coat & All That Jazz
Soli delivers Comedic Social Commentary on Bruinou Linguistic Acrobatics, Tokolosies & Parents Giving their Children Weird Names.
Though they have an extensive repertoire, which includes some original compositions, The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band taking to the stage after a short interval chose to pay tribute to Al Jarreau by exclusively performing songs made famous by the late Acrobat of Scat.
The band which over the years under the leadership of Glenn Robertson on vocals and percussion has a high standard of excellence and musicianship and is an alumnus of many an internationally acclaimed Jazz festival including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
It is therefore notable that among these seasoned musicians, they have within their ranks Timothy Erenreich, the band's 17 year old guitarist.
To use a much maligned South African sporting term, Timothy is not there as a "development player". He is a full member of the squad and plays with a level of musical maturity one seldom sees in one so young.
Timothy's style of play is reminiscent of but distinctly not an imitation of the seasoned live band and studio session guitarist Nazeem Brown who has featured on many great Cape Town Jazz projects and albums including those of the late Robbie Jansen.
I mentioned my observation to Glenn Robertson and when he called the lad over, Timothy revealed that Nazeem Brown indeed happens to be one of his former mentors.
The young musician says that he is working on a few compositions with the intent of creating his own signature style and following in the footsteps of guitarists like Ernie Smith, Jimmy Dludlu and Alou April as well as many other international jazz guitarists by creating a noteworthy debut album when the time is right.
We at Bruinou.com will of course be keeping a keen eye on this young musician as is his career continues to blossom.
The combination of seeing performances of both Soli Philander and the GRJB while enjoying a really great meal is an excellent concept. I however felt that something is amiss and I spoke to Soli about it after the show.
Soli is a veteran of many award-winning musical productions including the Original District Six ...so die man Kan sing!
Perhaps him performing a song or two with the band could give the show an extra edge?
As if by providence, 10 minutes later Glenn Robertson made the same suggestion.
As it turned out, they could not run with the idea for Nice Coat & All That Jazz at Kaleidoscope which ended on 25 February since it would have required extra rehearsal time which neither of them have scheduled for but they do concede that it is a good idea for future shows.
This is hopefully not the last incarnation of Nice Coat at Kaleidoscope or with the GRJB. Soli Philander and Glenn Robertson have both indicated that they are open to the idea of future collaborations.
Soli is already preparing for the next run of Nice Coat at a new venue and is intent on continually evolving the show and exploring the idea of sharing the stage with different artists from different genres at different venues with each new show.
In a telephone conversation a few days after finishing the run at Kaleidoscope, Soli also hinted that the possibility of coming up with collaborative performances unique to each new show is now also on the cards.
For us who reside in Cape Town, Nice Coat is a Tour which all of us should go on and we should definitely invite visitors from other parts of the country and abroad to go along for the ride.
We in fact raised the idea at the show that both the National & Provincial tourism authorities as well as Cape Town Tourism should at the very least be endorsing Nice Coat as some sort of a “Short Left” campaign.
The reality however is that Nice Coat itself makes no bones of being a political statement in the guise of poetic humour so chances of a government department sponsoring it...
Ja, I suppose that was just wishful thinking on our part.
The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band regularly has performances at Kaleidoscope Café and other Venues.
Click Here to Like The Glenn Robertson Jazz Band.
Kaleidoscope Café also regularly hosts Local and International Jazz Artists either performing on their own or alongside the GRJB.
However Jazz is not the only genre one can expect to be showcased at Kaleidoscope and the venue hosts many other events ranging from small conferences to artists having album launches and even art exhibitions. It also boasts a permanent exhibition of large oil-on-canvas portraits by Glenn's daughter Caelyn Robertson.
Click Here to view the Kaleidoscope Café Facebook Page.