Paul Hanmer - Naivasha


Paul Hanmer is no unknown to the visitors of this website. Chris Man has already reviewed his previous album "Playola" and introduced his personality. Listeners of "Smooth Africa" (Heads Up Records) will be familiar with his music too. Today I want to direct your attention to his  newest work "Naivasha", which was released on Sheer Sounds in 2000. His label comments his newest work: "The album is a dedication to the people in his life and pays homage to them in tracks like "Fanfare", dedicated to his wife Angela, and "Naivasha" about the Lake of the same name in Kenya, where for Paul, the horn voices of McCoy Mrubata and Marcus Wyatt echo the exceptional bird-life which congregates around this particular lake."

The Ballad Of Christinah & William starts with a slow piano play followed by an acoustic bass. The melody is presented by McCoy Mrubata's alto sax, surrounded by an orchestral sound, all well arranged and conducted. This song is timeless and beautiful. Not smooth jazz in the modern radio-like style but something what might be reached over from the past to our century.

Remember this album was produced in South Africa. You Must NÍva is a typical township hit. Louis Mhlanga plays an energetic wah-wah-guitar and guitar solo accompanied by a broad horn section. 

Gingerly swings Unspoken Secrets. Perfect soloists on this tune are Paul Hanmer (piano) and Louis Mhlanga on acoustic guitar.

Uptempoly run Paul fingers in the lower scales of his piano on the title song, joined by the horn section with staccato blows and improvisations. Fusion jazz at its best.

Catherine Wheel shows Paul Hanmer's classical education and his ability for slight tones speeding up to a crescendo. This tune demands your attention.

Oriental rhythms are introducing Raatiep, an epic piece. This is even for jazz an unusual tune. Listen to it like a classical transcription of an old Arabian theme.

Severn sounds more familiar to South African ears. Louis Mhlanga 's acoustic guitar play is unbeatable. This is what most of you me included expect of an album from South Africa, but Paul Hanmer's style is more complex and multifaceted.

Cape Spanish Inquisition is featuring McCoy Mrubata's tenor sax. He plays a warm tone sometimes strong sometimes mellow. Paul plays the Steinway Concert Grand piano in the grandeur of an Italian maestro.

Paul Hanmer's classic and orchestral attitude of horn and string arrangements is audible on Fanfare For J. This song could be the score of a great paramount movie.

The 3 Mafutas might be Paul Hanmer's final curtain. A solo piano work in a swinging waltz style with crescendo, pianoforte and soft touchs.

But then ..  the secret 11th piece, not listed on the cover. A romantic piano tune creeping to you like a black panther. 

Listening to this album, you will recognize that there are more jazz styles as you can imagine. South Africa has developed its own unique contribution and Paul Hanmer is without no doubt the figure-head of this evolution.