The Hanepoot Big Band, consisting of 18 jazz musicians from all over Cape Town, is unique in that they only play indigenous jazz, including some original material as well as their own arrangements of lesser-known SA jazz tunes.
Music lovers who have been to their concerts over the past 16 years have been known to rave about the energetic performances featuring marabi, goema and swing tunes. Reviewers referred to “uplifting events”, “filled with energy” and “feeling life-affirmed” after HBB concerts. The repertoire includes compositions by Errol Dyers, Dudu Pukwana, Kippie Moeketsi, Dollar Brand, Caiphus Semenya as well as band members Douglas Armstrong and Jannie Hanepoot himself. Some years ago the band with the help of Pro Helvetia commissioned a set of new arrangements of tunes by saxophonist Zacks Nkosi, an influential marabi composer who lived and performed with his band in Sophiatown in the 1950s, which were done by George Werner, Jannie Hanepoot and Shaun Johannes.
Jannie Hanepoot was introduced to playing African Jazz when he spent 2 years on the road with the original African Jazz Pioneers let by the late great Ntemi Piliso in the 1980’s. After a stint with mbaqanga band Winstons’ Jive Mixup he featured on drums and trombone as part of Johannes Kerkorrel’s Gereformeerde Blues Band that toured SA in the turbulent late 80’s playing Afrikaans protest music. From 1991 he spent 4 years in Amsterdam, Holland working as trombonist & music teacher, before locating in Cape Town where he founded the Hanepoot Big Band in 2001 while teaching at Merton Barrow’s Jazz Workshop. After almost 100 performances around Cape Town the HBB took a break in 2009 when he moved to Montagu in the Klein Karoo. Fortunately the band has now reformed, initially to open the 2016 Woordfees in Stellenbosch, and has been going strong ever
This latest version of the HBB boasts some new blood, and includes remarkable musicians like veteran trombonist Jasper Cook (also ex African Jazz Pioneers), trumpeters Muneeb Hermans & Doug Armstrong, pianist George Werner, guitarist Bruce Muirhead, drummer Kurt Bowers, with Gugulethu veteran John Ntsibilikwana and Didier Richards on alto saxes. One gets a sense of the amazing diversity of the band members when looking at the age range of members, with the youngest being 21 and the eldest 83, as well as where they hail from: Athlone, Bergvliet, Constantia, Delft, Grassy Park, Gugulethu, Hanover park, Kenilworth, Manenberg, Montagu, Pinelands, Retreat, Scarborough, Woodstock and Wynberg!
Hanepoot Big Band recorded a live CD Salt & Vinegar in 2007. This is what USA reviewer Jack Bowers, from www.allaboutjazz.com had to say: “the music is irresistible, and I’ve seldom been more enthralled while listening to a big band album for the first time.”