BY BILLY SUTER
Twenty questions for Cathy Peacock, amiable trumpeter with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. She is also the leader of popular swing band Platform Jazz, which will soon present The Best of Swing at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre, in Cunningham Road, Umbilo. The line-up includes Andreas Kappen on double-bass, Bruce Baker on drums, Melvin Peters on keyboards, Kirsten Sayers on clarinet, Jeff Judge on sax and vocals, Duncan Wooldridge on slide-trombone and the wonderful Shelley McLean as guest lead vocalist. Performances are at 8pm on January 27 and 28, and 2pm on January 29 – then again at 8pm on February 3 and 4, as well as 2pm and 6.30pm on February 5. Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners, on the first weekend only). Book at Computicket or phone Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.
HOW MANY SHOWS HAS PLATFORM JAZZ STAGED AT THE RHUMBELOW THEATRE AND HOW IS THE NEW PRODUCTION DIFFERENT?
The Best of Swing will be our fifth show there. It features our best and most well-loved swing tunes from the previous shows. There will also be a couple of new numbers. Look out for the lovely, glamorous dresses that the ladies will wear… and for a few more jazz audio-visual clips on the screens flanking the Rhumbelow stage.
WHAT ARE SOME ITEMS ON THE BILL – AND WHAT ARE AMONG STANDOUT NUMBERS FOR YOU?
There are some Dixieland numbers that we haven’t played before – such as Tishomingo Blues – and we will play a couple of different Glenn Miller pieces. Also, Kirsten, our clarinettist, will have a solo number (Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore) and Melvin will perform one of his original compositions. We will also do a jazzed-up version of My Favourite Things – with a twist. Also, our sax-player, Jeff, will present a modern piece in a swing style.
WHAT HAS THE GROUP BEEN UP TO RECENTLY – AND WHAT ARE AMONG PLANS FOR 2017?
Last year started with our show at the Rhumbelow, called Celebration Time. Then, apart from some private functions, we performed at a poetry and music event at Durban’s Playhouse in March, and also played at the Michaelhouse and Hilton festivals in April and September. We were also part of the Kloof Rotary Pops in July; performed at the Doone Village, Margate and Ridgewood retirement centres in May, August and December respectively; and were part of Vera Dubin’s annual Beth Shalom benefit concert at the Jewish Centre in August. We then did a soiree at Clifton in August, and one of our big crowd draws was a show on which we collaborated with Shelley McLean and Leigh Meyer – their Danswing production at Umhlanga’s Barnyard, in September.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU FIRST DEVELOP AN INTEREST IN THE TRUMPET… AND WHAT FORMAL TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD?
I started playing the trumpet at the age of nine. My brother was learning trumpet and I fancied playing as well. My father taught both of us and I did the British ABRSM exam system up to Grade 8. I also studied music up to matric and then did a BA at UKZN, including music, English and Speech & Drama.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU FORM PLATFORM JAZZ AS A SIDELINE TO YOUR FULLTIME JOB WITH THE KZNPO?
Platform Jazz started in 1991 when a friend of mine was looking for a Dixie band to play at the Durban station for the arrival of the Rovos Rail steam train. So I put together some fellow musicians and found some 1920 s music and that was our first gig hence the name Platform Jazz!
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE KZNPO – AND WHAT HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT WITH THE ORCHESTRA?
I joined the KZNPO in July, 1990, so I have been with the orchestra for 26 years. There have been two big highlights. The first was playing a joint concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Barbican in London in November 2004, and the second was a concert in Paris on Neslon Mandela’s birthday in 2013.
WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?
Fun, witty, strong-willed, reliable, affable.
WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF (HOWEVER TRIVIAL) THAT PEOPLE ARE UNLIKELY TO KNOW?
I do oil paintings. I have a lovely tabby cat called Bella. I like playing table tennis. I attend almost all theatre productions in Durban. I am a good cook.
YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?
In our last production at the Barnyard Theatre, everyone was on stage for the second half but no-one told me everyone had entered from the other side of the stage. I was still sitting in the dressing-room and they were all on stage waiting for me.
THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE MET – AND WHO WOULD YOU GIVE GOLD TO MEET?
I played in Shirley Bassey’s backing band when she performed to Durban. I have also played for the Queen in Durban… and I had my pic taken with Ronan Keating an our Starlight Pops concert in August 2015, and chatted to Patrizio at the Starlight Pops concert in 2016. I would like to meet Meryl Streep.
WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘VASTLY OVERRATED’?
Eating out, comedy shows, modern art, getting older and Donald Trump.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN – AND WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY (AND WHY)?
I was born in Gwelo in Zimbabwe. My 50th birthday was in 2016 and was much fun, with lots of jazz and a ‘1930s glamour’ theme!
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON CALLS TO REINTRODUCE THE DEATH PENALTY IN SOUTH AFRICA?
I am not in favour.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS ?
I don’t have many fears or phobias. I think I would not like to play in the wrong place in a symphony concert. A trumpet is a fairly loud instrument!
TWO OF YOUR MOST TREASURED MATERIAL POSSESSIONS?
I love my house… and my trumpet!
IF YOU COULD CHANGE THREE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
I would like to be more outgoing, thinner and kinder.
TWO HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER?
Apart from the two concerts with the KZNPO – in London in 2004 and Paris in 2013, as mentioned earlier – a highlight was in 2013, when Platform Jazz performed with the KZNPO backing us, at a Crawford soiree. That was great. Also, last year I conducted a couple of pieces with the KZN Youth Orchestra performing with the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir. That was at a sellout concert at the Music in the Mountains festival in April. That was pretty awesome.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR, MEAL, BAND, TV SHOW AND MOVIE?
My favourite colour is green. I enjoy Norwegian salmon. I like Michael Buble’s music. I am addicted to TV’s Grey’s Anatomy. I loved the Meryl Streep movie, Florence Foster Jenkins.
WHAT DO YOU MOST MISS FROM CHILDHOOD?
Open properties and no security gates – and people just popping in for a visit.
WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE’?
Good company, friendship, Lindt chocolate, laughter and George Clooney.