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The Soares I knew

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The Shares I knew
THE LATE: Soares Katumbela

I have known the late Bra Soares since my teens.

Growing up in Ghetto and being part of the club scene it was difficult not to notice him, after all, he was an integral part of the entertainment landscape.

I first came across him when I was about seventeen. At the time teenagers clubbed during the day at Club New Yorker’s “Teen Time” and SK would occasionally dee jay there.

He was quite sociable and would give young people who approached him his ear and talk music with them. It was at that time that I learnt he was part of the Francistown Jazz Club.

All we knew at that time was that jazz was some music whose songs were mostly lyric-less. Our wishes to get into the jazz sessions were futile as the rules were very strict.

Young people had teen time and nothing else. Jazz and night activities were for adults -period!

I would however get to know him personally when I started out as a young reporter.

At the time the New Yorker had folded and was running Ritzmar Sounds across the road from Tatitown Police Station.

One day when I was covering Miss Ritzmar, we engaged in conversation and he told me that he had noticed I had a passion for music and nightlife.

In his softly spoken, persuasive manner, he challenged me to consider covering live music, especially jazz.

I, as the old cliché goes, took to the challenge the way a duckling takes to water and never looked back.

It was at The Ritzmar that I got to appreciate live music and jazz. SK even gave me a list of artists to listen to and grow my jazz appreciation.

When time allowed, he would school me in the history of jazz and the blues.

Amongst those on that list were Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers, Hugh Masekela, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davies Dixieland Jazz band, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

This was the beginning of my jazz education.

It was also at the Ritzmar that I got to see great acts like Zimbabweans Jazz Impacto and Paul Lunga, South Africans Dorothy Masuka and Shakile and local acts Makgadikgadi, Loshalaba Reggae Radics, Mr. Brown, Malata Jazz Band and the great George Swabi.

It was also at this time that I learnt most performers had fickle egos that needed to be frequently nursed.

This would later become handy in my career as I dealt with the stars.

When the Ritzmar closed down and SK relocated to the capital city there was a noticeable void which, even today, has yet to be adequately filled.

I would link up again with Bra Soares when I too moved to Gaborone where I found him running Club Take 5 through which he was living his dream of having live Jazz as an everyday thing.

As far as I know, Take 5 is the only joint that dared have a live jazz act daily.

It was at Take 5 that most people got to appreciate great local acts such as the Abraxas Jazz Combo of the “Babalaz” fame

Bra SK also had genuine appreciation for local music and always did his best to promote it.

To most people this came to the fore when he ran the now defunct Jazz Brew in Mochudi.

It was at this venue that most people noticed the likes of the now-celebrated artists such as Shanti Lo, Lister Boleseng and Banjo Mosele as SK brought some life into the then otherwise dull weekends in the Bakgatla capital.

He also brought folk artists such as Shumba Ratshega and others to Mochudi.

When at the Jazz Brew, Bra Soarse would occasionally mention his intention to help take local music, especially his beloved jazz, to Europe and the rest of the world, a dream that eventually came true when he facilitated most of our celebrated musicians to Europe.

I am inclined to believe that had death not robbed us of this kindred music loving soul he would have even eventually taken it to the biggest stage of all, the United States of America.

As we celebrate his life and mourn his passing, may we each in our own way carry on pushing his dream of taking our music to the world. MHSRIP.