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Innovation and subtlety mark Mitchell tribute Print-ready version

Cape Times
January 13, 2005

Vocalist Tutu Puoane undertook the challenging task of interpreting the music of Joni Mitchell at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre last week. Jane Mayne looks at how she fared.

So many retro shows end up being just another hackneyed re-run of unimaginative music of some passé star. Not so with Tutu Puoane's retrospective dubbed Meeting Mitchell in Africa. Right from the opening bars of this Joni Mitchell retrospective, you know that you're in for a special treat.

A collaboration with Dutch saxophonist and bandleader Mete Erker, percussionist Fer van Duuren and guitarist Ferhan Otay, Meeting Mitchell In Africa is more than just a copycat rendition of the Canadian songwriter's material.

Using selections such as The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Black Crow, Hejira and In France They Kiss On Main Street, together the quartet presents an imaginative portrayal of Mitchell's work.

Puoane, who is currently singing for the Frits Bayens Big Band of Breda in Netherlands, is simply stunning. This jazz singer, who scooped a Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 2004, has matured into a performer of note and she brings a great sensitivity to this tricky repertoire.

Saxophonist Erker, who has performed with acts such as The Carla Bley Project, Zim Ngqwana and The Jazzmeteors, has a beautiful tone on brass. His two compatriots who have been seen in French Kiss, Intwine, Sena and Quadrant Extended, also shine with mesmerising chord work and interesting rhythms on the kit.

One noticeable feature of the Oude Libertas' annual performance programme, is that unlike some of the other larger platforms that play it safe each year, organiser Marietha Channel follows a more innovative approach when selecting the venue's line-up.

Upcoming features at their Summer Season bill include My Baby Just Cares for Me (January 19, 20, 22) with Thembi Mtshali-Jones and Michèle Maxwell. Gloria Bosman appears on March 2 and 4 with Tina Turner -The Ultimate Rock Lady.

Bosman also teams up with Lize Beekman for Tussen In Between featuring anything from Elvis to Ntjilo Ntjilo. Jannie Moolman follows with a showcase of Neapolitan classics and opera, while January 21 sees the return of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Alexander Kalajdzic.

A new dance production, Blood Wedding, will feature from January 26 - 29 and Janei1 from Switzerland combine dance, music, circus and architecture from February 7-19. African-Latin fusion band Tucan Tucan perform on February 13.

On March 10, the Cape Dance Company presents three performances of a special programme for its tenth anniversary. In Celebrating Ten, the company's contemporary style and classical undertones are showcased in choreographed pieces by Sean Bovim, Adele Blank, Michelle Reid and Debbie Turner.

The Fortune Cookie Theatre Company performs Black and Blue on February 3-5. Then there's Harlem Story on February 9-12. The season concludes with an Afrikaans reworking by Uys Krige of Twelfth Night. Twaaflde Nag is scheduled for March 16-19.

The Sunday twilight concerts begin at 6pm, and patrons can picnic under the oaks. The venue's newly renovated outdoor restaurant offers an alfresco buffet before performances. Bookings: 021 809 7380.

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Added to Library on January 15, 2005. ( 1,561)

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