Guy Buttery Trio: a soothe jazz revolution?

Photo: Jacki Bruniquel/National Arts Festival

When guitar-sitar stylist Guy Buttery, award-winning jazz bassist Shane Cooper and percussionist Ronan Skillen get together, magic inevitably happens. Actually, don’t believe the cliché. Guy Buttery doesn’t. At the beginning of the show he promises that, for their one-off performance at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival they will try to “not be kak”, and they certainly aren’t. 

What’s a global instrumentalist like Buttery doing playing jazz, you say? Well, jazz has always been the most fluid of genres. If it’s nuance you’re after as a listener, then Buttery, Cooper and Skillen’s fluid sonics are guaranteed to strike a soulful chord.

Photos By Kyle Prinsloo

Complementing Cooper’s sinewy bass and Buttery’s subtle acoustic guitar, Skillen deploys  African drums, bells, a patica and an agogó to seamlessly bring their own flavour of jazz to Grahamstown. Buttery defies expectations and makes some surprisingly sweet sounds with a violin bow and a wood-cutting saw (strange, but it worked). The result is a sound more cleansing and far more satisfying than a green juice detox. As a sign of appreciation, a member of the audience calls out, “Thank you.”

Instead of feeling like a gracious onlooker, it feels like you’re spending time with some friends, and incredibly-gifted ones at that. Their heads are thrown back slightly, their eyes closed and their bodies move side to side. Clearly they are enjoying the experience as much as we are. The trio are laid-back but charismatic, striking up friendly banter with each other while adjusting their instruments for the next song.

Watching the Guy Buttery trio was the ideal way to chase off those Sunday evening blues. I left DSG Hall feeling significantly less frazzled after the madness that the first few days of Fest brings. You may not be able to see this show again during the Festival, but you do not want to miss Buttery’s solo and Cooper’s collaborative shows as it means catching glimpses of the fantastic performance that they and Skillen had presented a few days before.

Watch Guy Buttery performing at the Graham Hotel at various times during the Festival, and on 8 July at 4pm at Thomas Pringle Hall. You can also catch Shane Cooper, along with fellow Standard Bank Young Artist winter Bokani Dyer, on 6 July at 10pm at the DSG Hall.

By Kayleigh Pereira