It’s been a long time since I’ve managed to catch a big band in Cape Town, none the less THE Mike Campbell Big Band! For those of you who are not familiar with the MCBB: Mike Campbell is a head lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. Teaching and mentoring UCT students over the years, he is as much admired as he is respected for his work. Without a doubt, I knew the music this evening would be good. The big band comprised of 18 instruments, saxophones, trumpets, piano, guitar, drums, bass, trombones and even the flute featured on a few songs. Featuring Gavin Minter singing the ‘American Song Book’, my real concern was the venue, Trinity.
My first experience of Trinity was for ‘Underground Wednesdays’ featuring P.H.Fat. It seems that their Wednesdays have not been very ‘underground’ since then, but without wanting to throw the venue away with all the wasted 19 – 23 year olds I experienced the first time, I was happy to revisit the venue under new circumstances.
Upon entering the venue, we were greeted by a courteous ‘bouncer’ and then by the snotty hostess. This is a running theme at Trinity so no change there. The actual big band venue looked lovely on the evening. The (usual) main dance floor had been filled with dining room tables and chairs, well organised, which gave the venue a good feeling. Unfortunately, although it looked lovely, it was to be an evening with a ‘finger in the dyke wall’ type feeling.
Starting with the seating; half the chairs were dining chairs, the other – plastic garden chairs! (This is meant to be Cape Town’s premium music venue)… 8 of us were sat at a 6 place table, manageable with women but with 3 men – not so much. The menu was a reasonable set menu with a dish to cover most tastes (vegetarian, red meat, white meat, fish, pasta & pizza) and well priced. To my knowledge, set menus are to ensure the kitchen can cope with numbers and to ensure quality of food. After ordering the sirlion our waiter returned with the news that only rump was available – no problem.
Upon receiving our food, there were two steaks on our LARGE plate. The first steak being tender but the second was tough, made worse by the ‘butter’ knives we were given to use. I suspect this was a sirloin / rump combo? The meat was topped with a few beetroot / carrot type chips – no greens. Fish & mash was another choice at our table, which I was told was ‘very fishy’, mushy fish with mash. The consensus was that a green vegetable would have balanced out both meals.
Our waiter on the evening was attentive and polite, he seemed to know the menu well and could make decent recommendations, however, the music was the champion of the evening along with the lighting engineers. Mike Campbell’s big band played beautifully and featured many solos from the likes of Dr Mike Rossi, Dan Shout, Marc de Kock and Buddy Wells (saxes) as well at trio pieces featuring Lee Thompson (trumpet), Andrew Lily (keys), with Kevin Gibson on drums. Classics such as ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’ and ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’, were boosted by beautiful but simple lighting from the visual engineers, adding just the right amount of ambiance for each tune. We even managed to get Mr Minter so sing just ‘one more’ for the road!
Thanks to the Mike Campbell Big Band for a great evening of music, pity your act was not matched by the venue. Hopefully these issues will be ironed out as Trinity has a lot of potential to actually BE Cape Town’s premium music venue.
ORIGINAL POST DATE: 30.06.11