Music safari: Food stories and all that jazz

13 January 2016 - 10:47 By Ishay Govender-Ypma

Hilton Schilder's living room is reassuringly familiar. There's a glass cabinet stacked with trinkets and memorabilia, a large black doll next to the sofa, family photographs and a small tapestry of The Last Supper. But when Schilder, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, sits at the piano playing Tesna 15, a ballad in a series dedicated to his wife of more than 30 years, you're transported to a city jazz club.We're in Grassy Park in the Cape Flats, a group of five - a couple from Holland and one from Pretoria and myself, on a "jazz safari" in Cape Town with Coffeebeans Routes, accompanied by tour guide Sabelo Maku. Running for a decade, the tour takes guests into the homes of local musicians where a meal and stories are shared, and Cape jazz is enjoyed. The night ends with a performance at a local jazz club.Iain Harris, founder of Coffeebeans Routes, a cultural tourism enterprise, explains that 10 years ago jazz venues offered a mediocre experience. The line-ups didn't include the greatest or most interesting musicians either.Operations manager Michael Letlala proposed a tour around jazz music featuring the talented musicians they'd come to know well, in the form of an intimate home concert."I'd been waiting for someone to throw that at me," says Harris. "From my previous business,, I had the connections with the jazz musicians, having worked with them on tours and albums for five years ."The jazz safari, initially featuring the multi-talented musician Mac McKenzie in his former Bridgetown home, was developed to cater for this obvious gap in the market.Both Coffeebeans Routes espouse the importance of cultural tourism and ensuring it's sustainable, non-exploitative and respectful.At a conference on the topic last year, Unesco reported: "Cultural tourism has proven to increase competitiveness, create employment opportunities, curb rural migration, generate income for investment in preservation, and nurture a sense of pride and self-esteem among host communities."As the evening at Schilder's proceeds - second helpings of Tesla's chicken curry are served and we are entertained on piano, nose flute and Conga drum - the musician opens up.Born into a musical family, his first memory of playing an instrument is around age three. Like many of the musicians of his time, Schilder can't read music. Instead he has memorised an encyclopaedic range of scores.Like a jazz riff, Schilder's speech is rhythmically scattered - excited, and mellow in waves. He tells about his time in Basel, Switzerland, and playing international gigs, the cannabis oil he swears by as part of his post-cancer treatment, and his 1980s revolutionary goema-rock band The Genuines.Schilder plays a preview of his upcoming album, a collaboration with Madosini (Latozi Mpahleni), the "queen mother" of Xhosa jazz. Uhambo, Schilder explains, means a spiritual journey, much like the one he has been on the past few years.Book a jazz safari: http://www.coffeebeansroutes.comHepcat HavensScratch your jazzy itch at one of these Johannesburg venues:The Orbit Jazz ClubA specially designed fortress of jazzitude. 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein. a great whisky list meets live music. The Firs/Hyatt Shopping Centre, corner of Oxford Road & Biermann Avenue. 011-880-3945Niki's OasisA historic venue in the former heart of the city's jazz scene. 138 Bree Street, Newtown, 011-492-1134BasslineThe backdrop for some of your life's best memories have weekly jazz nights. 110 Henry Nxumalo Street, Newtown.

There’s never been a more important time to support independent media.

From World War 1 to present-day cosmopolitan South Africa and beyond, the Sunday Times has been a pillar in covering the stories that matter to you.

For just R80 you can become a premium member (digital access) and support a publication that has played an important political and social role in South Africa for over a century of Sundays. You can cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.