Composer pays homage to Khoi Heritage

BY EMBRACING the sound of his musical Khoi forefathers, jazz pianist and composer Ramon Alexander hopes to instil pride in young coloured people about their history and legacy.

“In a country where our youth is in search for identity and culture, this music definitely has relevance. It is a very indigenous thing,” he said.

Alexander, 36, grew up in Mamre along the West Coast and started his love affair with music at the age of five.

Before his discovery of jazz, Alexander was influenced by the brassy sounds of Moravian hymns and the surviving �legacy of Khoisan music in his community. He said with his sound, proudly ghoema, he tries to address several concerns. For instance, on the issue of a Cape jazz musical legacy or tradition, he says it is undeniably part of our culture.

“It is a cosmopolitan sound coming from places like D6. The actual rhythm is from the east, rattiep.”

In 2011, Alexander released his debut album, Picnic at Kontiki, and made Eric Alan’s Top 40 jazz releases. In 2012, he recorded as the sole pianist on Mountain Records’ album Cape Jazz 4, released in 2013.

His latest album, Echoes from Louwskloof, Alexander says, in one sense pays homage to his musical forefathers and in another it is a homage to the forefathers of his birthplace.

“Louwskloof was a place close to home where a Khoi captain, Klapmuts, and his people roamed when the �German missionaries set up shop in Groenekloof (today it’s known as Mamre) at the turn of the 1800s.”

His track Louwskloof se mense tackles the stifled topic of the first inhabitants of Moravian Mamre, who converted to Christianity. Alexander is a qualified winemaker, but has dedicated his life to his music.

“I strongly believe that people want to hear this sound. I have noticed that when I perform it to audiences, they respond better to it than when I play the music of international composers.”

Echoes from Louwskloof is available on iTunes. For more information on Alexander