Our visit to Durban had everything to do with teaching for my dear friend Chats DeVroop at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Chats and I have been friends ever since he arrived at my doorstep in the mid-1990s and introduced himself. I had met his brother at a Jazz Education conference and that’s how Chats knew about me and my interest in South African jazz music. Luckily, I was home when Chats knocked on my door. He came to a class I was teaching that evening, stayed at my house and we went to Berklee College of Music the next day to have him meet Dave Mash their technology expert. On Milton Academy’s 1998 South Africa tour, Chats was wonderfully helpful with getting instruments we could borrow and driving us around. Chats is one of the most dedicated and caring music educators in South Africa and is also a scholar and performer.
I offered to teach for a week and with much thanks to MakeMusic and Milton Academy, we were able to equip Chats’ KwaZulu-Natal University computer lab with 20 copies of Finale software. Mavis Kallestad is the author of the definitive book on how to use this software and she generously donated 20 copies of her book to the college. Mavis’ husband Leigh was the point person in all of these and he and Mavis have been very kind with their time and knowledge. I am most grateful for Make Music’s and Mavis and Leigh Kallestad generous support of the updated KwaZulu-Natal computer lab.
I ended up teaching 8 Finale classes, coaching numerous combos and a bass master class and addressing a music education class. They are eager to learn but have limited resources. I very much enjoyed working with their students.
I was able to reunite with my band’s (The World Leaders) original pianist Melvin Peters in a concert with a trumpet player from Sweden, two American saxophonists who were living in Durban and a local drummer in a delightful concert at the University. We played to a packed and enthusiastic house. To our pleasant surprise, Darius Brubeck and his wife Cathy arrived at the concert. Darius was very helpful during Milton Academy’s first South Africa tour in 1992. Darius is the pioneer of jazz education in South Africa and his base was this university. He and Cathy have retired and are living in England so it was great to have them show up. I invited Darius to sit in on our gig and we had fun playing a tune Mamazela that I learned from him many years ago.
Chats was a wonderful host and we stayed at his apartment overlooking the Durban bay. All in all it was a very good week.