My heroes were Bird and Trane. I had a vintage Conn tenor with a Selmer embouchure. I struggled with scales and arpeggios but was a firm believer if you hung out with great musicians somehow their talent would rub off on you.
One night in Diagonal Street with Leighton, Phola and Sharks browsing through the Kohinoor I hear
‘Can you play that thing man or do you just carry it around to score chicks?’
It was the great Kippie Moeketsi smiling through a well worn face.
‘Tell you what’ he says ‘You buy a half jack and we go back to Pat’s place and make some sounds.’
So we all pile into Leighton’s combi and head for Diepkloof.
Pat Matshikiza lays down some township blues on his kitchen piano and Kippie noodles mellifluously. I was content to sit schtum and hear them play all night but at his urging I take out the horn. Takes me a bit to stop squeaking and find the key eventually hit a three note groove which I play repetitively. Just then Kippie stops playing and comes over to me and says:
‘You know what the problem with you white guys is?’
“No bra Kippie I don’t know what that is.’
‘Man’ he says ‘You poephol your wives!’
And he goes back to playing.
A lesson in jazz from one of the greats.
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