The start of the journey
The first half of the show consisted of a few solo performances from each musician and a couple of songs as a trio. While this was the start of the journey, I sometimes felt I was riding the milk train. Opening-night nerves, a feeling-out of the audience, a settling-in set, or a combination of these and other factors, but I wasn't always sure the musicians were going in the same direction or at the same speed. Don't get me wrong - this is merely an observation and does not qualify as a criticism - as the three musicians, whether playing solo or with each other in any possible combination, are supremely accomplished and a joy to listen to. Maybe the fault, if fault there must be, lay with my expectations. I have heard Dyers, Newman and Schilder play together in a more intimate venue and perhaps I allowed my anticipation to put me out of step with the opening set.
Coming back after the interval, the three masters got down to some seriously good work as a trio. And what a trio they make. Errol Dyers, jazz guitarist par excellence, put his guitar aside to play flute and harmonica on a couple of numbers. Steve Newman, with a remarkable economy of hand movement, produced an astonishing array of sounds from any of the three guitars he played on the night, demonstrating a mastery of his instrument that is world class. Hilton Schilder, it seems, is able to do anything with any musical instrument - hadi, piano, tea box percussion, and three wind instruments that I am unable to identify or name. One, which I think of as a mouth piano, consists of a keyboard about the size of a piano accordion keyboard with a mouthpiece attached. It is played by blowing into it and fingering the keys, producing a sound very like that of a piano accordion.
To say that I was enchanted by the music is an understatement. I was swept along on a musical journey and was happy to go wherever the music took me, and at whatever speed the musicians chose. Achingly sad or dramatically exuberant, this was the story of South Africa and its people - hauntingly poignant and playfully joyous music carried by soaring chords and complex poly-rhythms. Truly a musical voyage of note. The show runs nightly at the Fugard Theatre until Saturday, 5 March. If you like music with a uniquely South African flavour, try not to miss this journey.
All in One plays at the Fugard Theatre till to Saturday 5 March 2011 at 20h00 nightly. Tickets cost R150, with balcony seating at R130 per ticket. Bookings are though the Theatre's Box Office on 021 461 4554 or with Computicket on www.computicket.com.