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Dan Shout: In With a Shout

Seton Hawkins By

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I like guitarists who have got more of a rock sound, but who can play Jazz. I like people who could play on a hollow body and play a straight-ahead Wes Montgomery vibe, but who can also play with pedals and distortion. So when Michael came back, I just said to him, "Hey man, I'm just about to record this album. Please, could you play on it?" And funnily enough, when I did a gig up in Joburg with the same material about two years ago, I couldn't take my whole band. So I took two or three guys up, and then the rest of the band were actually guys already living there. Then, I filled the band with two or three other friends of mine who hadn't done the project, and Michael was one of them. So he was familiar with the material when we went to record, but it had been developed quite a lot more since when he first played it. But he's a ridiculous professional. I started to write for guitar in a more more complicated or more complex way, because he literally plays the horn lines exactly like the horns do, whereas I would give Gorm more free rein to go and do what he thought was best. Michael and Gorm each brought different strengths to the sound. I'm acutely aware that guitar and saxophone work very well together, so sometimes I would double certain things on the guitar that I was playing, or on another part just to reinforce it. But I would also give them the rhythmic aspect and the improv aspect as well.

AAJ: On both albums, but particularly on In With a Shout, one hears the strong influence of Cape artists like the Dyers brothers.

DS: I think there are some hugely influential genres of South African Jazz, particularly from up north. The only problem for me is that I didn't really come to Jazz through those genres. I came to Jazz while I was at UCT, studying classical clarinet. Some of the guys who were a few years ahead of me were people like Kesivan Naidoo, Buddy Wells, Marc de Kock, and Melanie Scholtz. And it was there that I got exposed to Jazz. I didn't actually come up through the Johannesburg or the Durban scenes, the "classic" sort of South African Jazz. I came up in the Cape Jazz sound. What started getting me to love Jazz was hearing the students who were older than me and who are brilliant Jazz musicians nowadays, but also through playing the arrangements of Darryl Andrews and Mike Campbell. They would regularly feature people like Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Robbie Jansen, Selaelo Selota, and Marcus Wyatt as special guests. I feel that my influence of South African Jazz is very specifically through the magnifying glass of the Cape Jazz sound. I'm not saying I don't love or I don't listen to Hugh Masekela or Miriam Makeba or Bheki Mseleku, but my focus, my upbringing, and my love for South African Jazz in particular came through Alvin Dyers, Errol Dyers, Darryl Andrews, Mike Campbell and Andrew Lilley. So instead of writing a samba, I'd rather write a ghoema. That's a sound that I love, and I've tried to sound like the Cape. I try and make my own version of the Cape, but in a way that's like Yellowjackets Meets Ghoema, if you know what I'm trying to say! AAJ: As we move from In With a Shout to Secret Weapons, the compositional range gets quite a bit more ambitious. Can you talk about that development?

DS: I'm a busking composer and arranger, a trial-and-error composer and arranger. Having said that, I play a lot of ensemble music, whether it's big band or tentet, and all sorts of different people's compositions. I think I know generally how it's supposed to sound if it's good. I'm not necessarily sure how to do that, pen-to-paper like a "real" arranger. But it's something I love and it's something I work on and study. I'm always trying to improve myself the whole time. So I think that on In With a Shout, I really felt I took a huge turn in sort of picking the correct personnel for the album, writing better for them, and also discovering myself as to what I wanted to say and who I am and keeping it real in a way. With this album three years later, I think I took another huge step in the right direction. Now I'm trying to find where I think I'm going with it.

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