REVIEWS
Cape Town jazz vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin comes back home
to record her South African debut and first album in ten years.

Sathima Bea BenjaminSathima Bea Benjamin is the greatest living South African jazz vocalist, male or female. All disbelievers refer to her new release, "Cape Town Love", the first in ten years. Not only does the recording sum up the vocal talents of this warm, charming woman, but in some ways completes the circle that began in the early 1960s with a pair of one way tickets for herself and pianist husband Abdullah Ibrahim to Europe and a chance meeting with the legendary US musician Duke Ellington. In fact, between her last recording and this one, Sathima's discography had a new addition when a jazz historian discovered previously unknown sessions with the singer and Ellington, released in 1998.

"Cape Town Love" is her first recording at home, after 25 years in Europe and the US. It is also nostalgic as she performs music she played as a young jazz singer in the Mother City during the late 50s in what she calls her "night school". Her treatment of these jazz classics in her languid, distinctive style would make one assume her their original composer. None of the compositions featured are original, as the newest of the eight featured on the CD is over 50 years old. There's When Day Is Done (written in 1926), I'll Be Seeing You (1938) that helped Bing Cosby's career, If I Should Fall In Love Again (1940) and personal favourite, Body and Soul, first recorded by Coleman Hawkins in 1940.

Of course "Cape Town Love" pays tribute to the beloved town that makes people from there weak in the knees. But one gets the feeling it is a tribute to the featured pianist Henry February, 70. You see, the seeds of the recording were planted in a transAtlantic fax in which Ibrahim told of a pianist he'd heard at a Cape Town restaurant. It so happened to be February, who, by the way, was a regular at the haunts a young Sathima sang in.

The next thing she was back home, albeit briefly. A tight two day schedule this March at the Milestone Studios in Cape Town, filled with beautiful music, memories, coffee and I suspect wet eyes here and there. Sathima, February, bassist Basil Moses and drummer Vincent Pavitt recorded an awesome piece of music. A definite collectors piece for connoisseurs.

Tebogo Alexander

Sathima Bea Benjamin Cape Town Love (ekapa records S.A.)
Recorded Cape Town March 18-19th 1999

Sathima Bea Benjamin (vocals) Henry February (piano) Basil Moses (bass) Vincent Pavitt (drums)

  1. When Day Is Done (BG De Sylva, Robert Katcher) 7:29
  2. I'll Be Seeing You (Irving Kahal, Sammy Fain) 7:42
  3. If I Should Fall In Love Again (Jack Popplewell) 5:10
  4. If You Were The Only Boy In The World (Nat Ayer, Clifford Grey) 7:12
  5. You Go To My Head (Fred J Coots, Haven Gillespie) 6:30
  6. I Only Have Eyes For You (Al Dublin, Harry Warren) 5:55
  7. I Wish I Knew (Mack Gordon, Harry Warren) 8:26
  8. Body and Soul (Robert B Sour, Edward Heyman, John W Green, Rank Eyton) 6:55

A Brief Sathima Bea Benjamin Discography

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