ballad for thomas
This jazz tune has a strong South African township ‘mbaqanga’ feel, recognisable in the rhythms and the punchy chord sequences. After the opening piano solo, the score continues from bar 19 as a piano lead sheet although there are no parts for other instruments. ‘Explanatory Notes to the Performer’ that are reproduced in the score show that he thought of ballad for thomas as a jazz combo piece. The 5th note suggests that it was written for a particular occasion: ‘Play once because of the time limit and then improvise over the harmonies from the sign. The theme (from “sign”) – or the “head” as it is usually referred to in jazz – should be recapitulated after the improvisations’. It may have been a SAMRO commission. The piece is fairly short and tightly constructed, eminently suited to solo as well as ensemble performance.
The name Thomas Krüger appears in several documents by Reddy that he wrote around the time ballad for thomas was completed, in July 2005. These include ‘gardenpartychezthomas (25/05/2005)’, referring to an event held on Krüger’s farm, which Reddy sometimes visited from Konstanz where he lived, just to escape, or to work on his music. The melody hints at his 1993 jazz tune in the fast lane, which was written at a time when he played a lot of jazz with his band Channel 18 in South Africa.