By Peter Feldman
Dwight Trible, the celebrated New York based crooner who is credited with influencing a new generation of jazz singers, is in Johannesburg to deliver his special magic at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.
Trible, who has recorded three albums over the years, is one of the big attractions at the event, which takes place on four stages at the Sandton Convention Centre from Thursday to Saturday, September 24 to 26. Some of the famous names to be featured include Peabo Bryson, William Parker, Larry Carlton, Dee Alexander, Marcus Millar and The Yellow Jackets.
Trible told me in an interview that this was the first time he was coming to South Africa after 20 years of talking about it. ”Finally somebody has made it happen and I am very grateful for that.
“I look forward to coming to South Africa and meeting my brothers and sisters. You continue to put love into the universe in some kind of way, and the spirit will let you know what’s happening and that your efforts have not been in vain.”
Asked what material he will be performing, he said, “I understand people seem to enjoy my ‘Living Water’ record, so I will be doing some things from there and a couple of things that I’m working on.”
Trible revealed he is busy with three separate projects at present. One is ‘The Inspiration Project’, which comprises songs he has done over the years. These are “songs of inspiration and spirituality, but it’s not necessarily Gospel.”
On the subject of hope, Trible said that in today’s world one needed hope, “all the way down from the government to my own personal life with my family.”
He added: “On every level we need hope – hope to carry on and believe that things can get better and won’t continue to spiral out of control. Our governments will in some kind of way have moments of consciousness and clarity and will understand that a lot of their actions will destroy the world. We need hope in so many facets of our lives.”
He recalls that his earliest inspiration came from female singers. “My first inspiration was my mother. She had a beautiful voice and that was the first time I was mesmerised by singing. I was about two years old when that happened.”
He talked about listening to the legendary Mahalia Jackson who inspired him to sing. “As I became a teenager I got into the music of Linda Jones, a soul singer who was heavily influenced by Gospel, and the legendary Aretha Franklin. Then as a young adult I was introduced to Betty Carter and when I heard her I knew that this was going to be a big part of what my role is in life. I guess everybody is a product of all they’ve heard and seen, and whatever we are continues to evolve.” In his formative years his musical development, he said, was somewhere between Betty Carter and Mahalia Jackson.
Asked what he still wanted to do in life, Trible replied: “On the recording side I would like to do the inspiration project and a record of ballads (I love ballads). I am also evolving into more spontaneous improvisation. I have a group I’m working with outside of my own efforts. They are called Alternative Angles, which is a completely improvisational vocal group. There is no structure to the music, and we have no idea what we are going to do before we do it. We come together every Tuesday for an hour-and-a-half. We pray and then we perform and we meditate and then go home.”
The group has already had three well-received concerts in Los Angeles and they are thinking of making a record. “The question is will people sit for an hour and listen to something that is all improvisational,” he laughed.
Trimble will recruit musicians that he used on his ‘Living Water’ album for his South African trip; pianist John Rangel, bassist Trevor Ware, who’s been with him for 30 years, and percussionist Derf Ieklaw.
He has not decided on repertoire for the concerts, but will go on what he calls “inspiration,” admitting that he’s well known for approaching concert without a set list. “I go on spirit and inspiration and what I feel the vibration is for the day,” he said. ”When you play with the same people for as long as I have, and who all know your music well, you have a vibe on what the spirits tell you to do.”
When away from music, Trimble is a great basketball fan and supports the LA Lakers, admitting that he has never played the sport.
His message to his fans is to “ultimately we’re hoping the music will not only entertain, but heal the spirit.”
* Visit www.joyofjazz.co.za for more information. For ticketing info, consult Computicket.