The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN was proud to present a special edition of the ever-popular Piano Passions concerts, which are characterised by a programme of short sets by formidably talented pianists.

The special edition of the Piano Passionsconcert was set to take place at UKZN’s Howard College Theatre on Friday, 6 April at 19h00.

This concert was a belated birthday concert for renowned pianist and academic Professor Darius Brubeck who turned 70 last year. He headlines a roster of former students and highly individual piano stylists including Melvin Peters, Andile Yenana, Neil Gonsalves (UKZN), Nishlyn Ramanna, Debbie Mari (UKZN) and Burton Naidoo (UKZN).

‘April is Jazz Appreciation month and the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music was thrilled to have the opportunity to launch our programme of events for the month in such fine style. The concert was held at the Howard College Theatre so as to enjoy use of our recently refurbished Steinway pianos,’ said Jazz lecturer Mr Neil Gonsalves.

Admission was R100, R80 for pensioners and R50 for students. All proceeds accrue to the Ronnie Madonsela scholarship which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

*Jazz pianist and composer DARIUS BRUBECK was born in San Francisco. He grew up in the artistic milieu of his famous father Dave and has enjoyed a lifetime of varied international experience as bandleader, composer and academic. In 1983 he founded the first degree in Jazz Studies in South Africa at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and later created the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music. Together with Ben Pretorius of the Rainbow Jazz Club and Restaurant, they established the Ronnie Madonsela Scholarship for Jazz. This Scholarship has helped many past and present students.

Moving to England in 2006, he now leads the Darius Brubeck Quartet with London-based musicians as well as Brubecks Play Brubeck with his US-based brothers. Both groups tour extensively in Europe, the USA and South Africa and perform annually at Ronnie Scott’s famous jazz club in London. This year already the Quartet has played in Poland and Sicily and will appear at numerous venues in the United Kingdom. Two of Darius’ compositions are included in the ABRSM (Royal School) piano syllabus.

Darius and his wife/manager Catherine are jointly writing a memoir about their jazz life in South Africa with generous support from the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).

Words: Melissa Mungroo and Thulile Zama

Photograph: Tim Dickeson