african funk for felix
Reddy wrote african funk for felix after the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) commissioned a South African jazz piece for their 2005 Overseas Scholarships for Keyboard Players Competition final round, a public concert on Saturday 20 August 2005 at the Z.K. Matthews Hall of the University of South Africa, Pretoria. It was premiered at the competition by Burton Naidoo, now a free-lance jazz musician in Durban. The work was written as a jazz trio with a virtuoso keyboard part and occasional indications for bass and drums, but its competition origins make it more of a keyboard solo. The piece was completed in 2005 and published that year by SAMRO.
As Reddy says in his ‘Notes by the Composer’ that prefaced the 2005 SAMRO score and are reproduced on the present score, ‘a quantised sense of rhythm is essential to the interpretation of this sort of music, which I call “clazz”, a seamless fusion of jazz, classical, traditional african and many other different styles of world music’. Reddy recalls in an interview with film maker Béla Batthyany in early March 2009 (quoted by courtesy of Heike Asmuss) how african funk for felix grew out of his teaching. He and his student, Felix Schwalb, ‘were studying jazz improvisation, modes – the Kirchentonarten – and the way one uses them in improvisation, and he was very interested in learning about the South African jazz style called mbaqanga, so I brought the two elements into the piece. It was a bit difficult [to play], so he nearly killed me when I gave it to him. This is what usually happens to me’.