Sound Bites: Nick Pitman

Durban guitarist Nick Pitman, a versatile musician who recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

BILLY SUTER with an occasional column in which he chats to popular musicians about their musical likes and dislikes. The spotlight is on versatile Durban guitarist NICK PITMAN, who was recently seen at Sibaya Casino’s Rockwood Theatre, in the show Sinatra and Me and as a stand-in for John Ellis in Hollywood Hits.


Latest news from you?

I recently filled in for John Ellis in the Rockwood Theatre show, Hollywood Hits, and also played there for Sinatra and Me. I have also been busy with the band Calamity Jam, having played gigs at Shongweni Polo Club and Olive & Oil in Westville. I also had my own show at Durban’s Jazzy Rainbow on March 29 and have some shows lied up with Chloe Clarke in May.

What is your favourite song right now?

Drive by Black Coffee and David Guetta.

The last albums you bought – and why?

I bought Neil Gonsalves’s album North Facing and Sazi Dlamini’s Skokiaan, both from UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music… about a year ago. They were two of my lecturers and I was interested in hearing their music. I don’t really buy a lot of albums. I’m mainly streaming at the moment.

Two of your favourite songs of all time?

Go You Own Way by Fleetwood Mac and Red House by Jimi Hendrix.

Three of the finest albums ever?

Walter Smith III’s Still Casual – a great  modern jazz album with incredible musicians who all have their own projects. I really enjoy this album because it is technically brilliant.

Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. This is at two and-a-half hour, three-disc album brought out a couple years ago. It is also a modern jazz album with incredible musicians. However, this album is not about technique… it is soulful, colourful and wondrous. There are jazz standards reworked into new soul/funk versions. There are vocalists, a choir and an entire string section. It truly is epic and has high energy.

Jimi Hendrix’s Axis – Bold as Love – A great combination of Hendrix’s virtuosity, songwriting skill and lyrical originality.

Song you hate the most right now?

It has to be that Inhliziyo Yami Ithi Hey song by Shado M that is so popular right now.

Worst song in history?

Billy Rae Cyrus’s Achey Breaky Heart.

Song you most associate with your teens?

Red House by Jimi Hendrix.

Song you most associate with your early childhood years?

The Proclaimers’s I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).

The size of your music collection and the artists represented most there?

It is not incredibly big as I stream quite a lot, so I don’t really “have” the albums. But in my streaming playlists and lists of artists I follow, I would say that instrumental music is most common. Genres like Blues, Soul, Jazz, South African Jazz, Mbaqanga and South African House.

Favourite radio station and DJ?

I enjoy listening to Radio 2000 and Ukhozi (KwaZulu-Natal music). I laugh hard at Thabooty on 5FM. so probably she would get my vote as favourite DJ.

The local artists you most admire?

Afrogong, Bheki Mseleku (died 2008), Dan Patlanksy and Brian Thusi (died 2018).

Artists from abroad that you most admire?

Louis Mhlanga, Jimmy Dludlu, Kamasi Washington and Jonothan Kreisberg.

Most over-rated people in the recording business?

Most of The Billboard Top 100 artist and most of the 5FM top 40 artists (any year, any time of that year).

Pet hate/s about the music scene in South Africa?

Scene Kids, the fact that there are very few venues for bands, and a  lack of curiosity about cultures meaning which means gigs are so often racially and culturally divided.

Also, gigs for specific genres. I think gigs should cross genres. Why not have a maskandi artist alongside a rock group, alongside a jazz band? Imagine the interaction between the different audience members.

I am also against the elitism demonstrated by most jazz musicians and jazz academics.

The one music act you would give the world to see perform live?

I’m not overly attached to any band. But I would looove to see Muse in a stadium with more than 40 000 people.

Ever asked a music personality for an autograph?

I think I once asked Durban’s Barry Thomson for an autograph! I was about 12. That was when I started to play guitar.

Music acts you have seen live and loved?

Afrogong in Durban, most gigs at The Chairman in Durban, and Femi Koya at the 2018 Zakifo Fest.

Best singing star ever?

Sarah Vaughan.

The greatest musician of all time?

Jimi Hendrix.

Best band in history?

Led Zeppelin.

The styles of music you most enjoy – and least enjoy?

I most enjoy jazz, blues, rock and soul. I am not a fan of hip-hop, drum ’n bass, and dance music.

The most embarrassing artist represented in your music collection – and why is it there?

Enrique Iglesias! I was given a whole bunch of music from a friend without checking it, so now my hard-drive is tainted.

The one song that will always be guaranteed to get you on to a dancefloor?

There isn’t one song, but I danced the shit out at the Afrogong gig at Cool Runnings recently.

The musical teaming you would most like to see?

Jimmy Dludlu (guitar), Michael Pipoquinha (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums) and Hiromi (piano).

Your choice of karaoke song?

The Proclaimers’s I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).

Worst decade for music?

2000 to 2010.

Hottest-looking music celebs?

Mohini Dey (bassist) and flaurist Elena Ayodele, Also,  Alicia Keys.

Instruments you can play?

Guitar, bass, piano and drums.

The song you’d like to be played at your funeral?

All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix.

The first song you ever performed for an audience?

I think it was All Along the Watchtower.

Two dead music icons you’d most like to invite to dinner?

Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

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