Tribute night to ‘legendary jazz pianist’

Mervyn Africa will perform at the Galleon Bar, Abingdon Street, on Tuesday, September 23
Mervyn Africa will perform at the Galleon Bar, Abingdon Street, on Tuesday, September 23
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A jazz showcase will feature a tribute to celebrated pianist Joe Sample, who died last week.

The musician, a founding member of The Crusaders who went on to solo and guest success with artists including Miles Davis, George Benson, Jimmy Witherspoon, BB King, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, and The Supremes, was a major influence for Mervyn Africa, who will be playing at Blackpool’s Galleon Bar.

The event, on Tuesday night, will see musicians offered the chance to play along with Mervyn at the Abingdon Street venue.

Bar owner Stephen Pierre described Mervyn as a ‘legendary jazz pianist’ and said: “I often get asked about promoting jazz nights, but the problem we have is that a lot of younger musicians and customers are unaware about jazz improvisation.

“I would like to offer younger musicians the opportunity to play alongside Mervyn Africa, who in my opinion is a world class musician.”

Stephen, with bass guitarist Chris Hodder, has brought together a local band to play with Mervyn, including Adam Soar on saxophone and clarinet, Ally Picking on guitar, and Carl Hutchinson on drums, as well as offering audience members the chance to guest on the night. Mervyn moved from his native South Africa to England in 1981, working alongside the likes of Courtney Pine, Carmel and All Saints in the UK and Europe.

Now in semi-retirement, he hosts jazz workshops and jam sessions.

Stephen said: “I first heard him play only about a month ago on one of my Sunday jazz tours of London and I was blown away by his natural improvising skills and his generosity towards other musicians.

“He is a man after own heart, and is passionate in keeping music live and passing on inspiration.”

Mervyn said: “I have toured with bands all over the UK and Europe, but never played Blackpool and I am looking forward to it.”

It is hoped that the one-off will start a partnership between Galleon Bar and jazz venue Matt & Phreds in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, exchanging talent and opportunities – with a view to setting up a jazz and blues festival in the town.

Stephen added: “This may be considered an ambitious ploy, but with the power of social networking and support from the regional jazz fraternity, nothing is beyond the reach of probability.”

Mervyn Africa and the Galleon session players, begins at 9pm on Tuesday. Free entry.