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Interview: Babu

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Fourpiece vocal-free jazz fusion outfit Babu paint us a picture of music as a gentle art, one that is earned through years of sincere practise and style. And as amazing as the Cape Town group’s subtle, Indian-styled melodies and arrhythmic beats go, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Take a couple of pages from this book…

Babu interview


Babu is…
Kesivan Naidoo – Drums
Reza Khota – Guitar
Ronan Skillen – Tablas, percussion
Shane Cooper – Electric Bass

S: “Indian classical music meets traditional Western jazz ideosyncrasies” [laughs - these are the exact words in their press release]

Re: Two years. But it’s only been the last year that we’ve done it seriously.

K: We were all involved in other projects. We all knew the band wasn’t gonna stop after the first gig. When you nuture something, you’re patient and you wait till the time’s right.

S: From traditional American jazz to contemporary electronic and broken beat stuff. I could sit here for 20 minutes and list a whole bunch of bands. From this band, I might draw ideas from something that’s completely unrelated to this genre of music.

K: I have a billion examples. Or maybe a million. For this band, Shakti, The Zawinul Syndicate. Original world music masters, and then people like John Coltraine, Miles Davis, drummers Tony Williams, Brian Blade and Alvin Jones. Beyond that, Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko remind me that I’m allowed to do these things. That’s a big influence for me.

Re: And The Weather Report [an influential 70s jazz fusion group].

K: I would love to play all the great concert halls: La Scala, Royal Albert Hall, Carniegie Hall, the Lincoln Centre. A sit-down venue

Ro: There’s a local venue I’d dig to play, the Oude Libertas Theatre.

Re: That place has got really good acoustics. There’s nothing that can compare to a gig where you have incredible sound. It turns you on, it turns the audience on, you just get…

K: …get off [laughs]

Re: We don’t only make music, we sacrifice a helluva lot.

S: We sacrifice little lambs… [laughs]

K: The fundamental thing is to have fun. If you’re not having fun, the audience can’t have fun. We have so much fun together it becomes incestuous, and that translates into the audience…

Ro: You mean infectious? [laughs all round]

K: Keep it in the house…! [laughs] Ok, ok. I meant…I meant both, acually. [laughs all round]

Re: Why? Because we can play this kinda music.

  • The Restless Natives At Headset
  • Interview: Unit.r

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    The Restless Natives At Headset

    Friday, February 22nd, 2008

    Kesivan Naidoo is nuts. In a kinda enlightened way, and if you don’t know who he is, make a point of using veto power on the next Dirty Skirts gig and checking established jazz outfit The Restless Natives at some point. Even if you weren’t at last night’s Headset Sessions, you’d still be amazed not just at his Ganesh-like drum skills and the ability of Lee Thompson, Shane Cooper, Jason Reolon and saxophonist Chris Engel to create a bit of a buzz…

    Headset Sessions

    Held at the Armchair Theatre in Observatory, Cape Town, The Headset Sessions are where you go when you’re tired of jumping around and just wanna chill now. In our travels around the Mother City, Joburg and Durban, Overtone encounters loads of “look-at-me” and “f***in’-listen-to-us-rrrOOOAAAAARRR” artists and bands, but the essence of what these guys are offering is music that spans the volume range. In short, you’ll get the louds and the softs, the complex and the simple, the dynamic spectrum.


    The Restless Natives. Restless bunch, really….
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    At points, dreadlocked double-bassist Shane Cooper was ping-ponging his strings with a drumstick. Keyboardist Reolon tweaks his volume incessantly within songs to find the perfect level for the phrase, and Thompson played a backing, harmonising role effectively.

    Chris ‘Afro’ Engel leapt off from the get-go, flipping between a vintage-looking alto and a lustrous bass sax (may be wrong about this – comments?), and grabbing the limelight and the flashes of a piranha-like photography crew. The sax is a bonor-ific instrument, and the closest word in the English vernacular to you know what. So the close-up shot photography was basically soft instrument porn with clothes and instruments.

    We chilled, seated on the floor, with candlelight and a homely, conversational vibe.To be fairly critical, there were moments in the intimate venue where the drum kit blatantly overpowered the rest of the action, but the sound was tight, real, and live. And maybe a couple more cushions next time, please. But all in all, worth the R30 and the drinks are around R12 a beer. Good crowd, and definitely a weeknight gig.

  • The Headset Sessions are organised by Lee Thompson, and take place on occasional Thursdays at the Independent Armchair Theatre in Observatory, Cape Town.
  • The Restless Natives play every Tuesday at Asoka on Kloof St, Cape Town. Catch what we had to say about them.
  • Restless Natives Reach The Heart Of Jazz
  • Headset Sessions: Go Latin
  • More news…



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