Local jazz legend takes centre stage with his son

2017-03-23 06:03
Roy and Stephen Sokuyeka sharing the stagePHOTO: fanie jason

Roy and Stephen Sokuyeka sharing the stagePHOTO: fanie jason

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IT will be a rare but perfectly fitting occasion, when legendary trumpeter Roy Sokuyeka performs with his trombonist son Stephen Sokuyeka this Sunday 26 March at Kwa Sec, NY 138, no. 52 in Gugulethu from 4pm.

Sponsored by Concert SA, this concert honours the 73-year-old jazz musician for his contribution in honing musical skills of many young musicians in the Cape flats.

His involvement in teaching music has even put his own son Stephen on a pedestal where he has found support from jazz luminaries like McCoy Mrubata and Feya Faku.

Famously known as Bra Roy in the townships of Nyanga and Gugulethu, Roy Sokuyeka was born in Grahamstown where he started listening to jazz blurring from the neighbours speakers.

“There were also live jazz bands back then that performed live in community halls. Though the acoustics were bad, there was a lekker jol as we would swing to all sorts of sounds from American to South African amarabi,” says Bra Roy. He soon befriended the band members of Diamond Black, a mbaqanga band. He would carry their musical instruments whenever there was a performance.

Bra Roy says he got to pick up the trumpet by a chance.

“At a time of come to age, I had just come back from being circumcised. As in African culture there were traditional celebrations for my return. Young and old men as well as children had gathered to drink and eat meat, it is at this ceremony that one of the older musicians stood up and presented me with a trumpet.” Explains Bra Roy.

At the time he could not even play a note. “I soon started to teach myself, blowing awkwardly and sometimes I will get one of the older musicians to teach me.” But there was little time. The band was always on the road. He was left on his own.

Because jazz was his first love, he travelled to Port Elizabeth where he joined the Soul Jazz Man band. It is there that he started jazz standards and improvising on the trumpet.

In 1964, he moved to Cape Town to stay with his extended family. A year later, Bra Roy joined the Quiz-Quiz Jazz Band. The band performed in community halls in the Cape flats.

Jazz did not limit his playing skills. He became part of the brass band at the annual The Kaapse Klopse (Cape Coon Carnival) in the 1980s. He later joined the Touch, a jazz band in Gugulethu where he met the likes of McCoy Mrubata, Ezra Ngcukane, Willie Nettie, performing regularly in Cape Town’s night clubs.

In 2004 his youngest son, Stephen took up a trombone at the Amy Bielh Foundation where Bra Roy was teaching music. He soon gave him extra attention and honed his skills with more practice at home. Stephen has now performed with some of the well-known jazz musicians including McCoy Mrubata, Feya Faku, Peter Ndlala amongst the few. This Sunday Bra Roy and his son Stephen takes centre stage to performing a wide range of South African jazz standards and a flare of African samba with celebrated marimba player Bongani Sotshononda. Joining in will be Bra Roy’s old friends, Roger Khoza on piano, Zalisile Mkhonto on drums and bass player Godfrey Dyantjie.

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