There must be two or three people who know more about South African jazz than Eric Alan, but I’ve never met them and never heard of them. The Argus, Cape Town’s afternoon newspaper, describes Eric as "a radio presenter, columnist, reviewer, website owner, editor, Cape Town International Jazz Festival MC and all round supporter of jazz, [who] lives and breathes the genre." True enough, but that’s not all. He’s also the driving force behind the Rainbow Room, Cape Town’s newest and potentially most exciting jazz club.
A couple of weeks ago, I met Eric for a cup of coffee at the café in the Rainbow Experience, the art gallery, book and music store, and upscale hang-out that’s located a floor above the Rainbow Room, in Mandela Rhodes Place, in downtown Cape Town.
It’s hard not to describe Eric as a bear of a man, given his girth and bushy brown beard. He’s got a ready sense of humor and seemingly boundless energy, both of which were evident as he told me about his plans for the club, which has been open for about two months.
Already, Rainbow Room is presenting live jazz twice a week, on Monday and Saturday evenings. Eric insists that the focus is now -- and will forever remain -- on the music, not on flogging food and drinks. He’s also promising music that’s more adventurous and more in tune with African jazz styles than other local clubs. So far, Eric and the Rainbow Room are certainly living up to that commitment. The club manages to be both laid-back and sophisticated, a great place to hear music and spend time with friends.
Eric’s not going to stop there. In the works are programs that will make the Rainbow Room a regular stop for international jazz artists, a center for jazz education, and an incubator for promising South African talent. I shouldn’t say much more -- Eric’s not quite ready to go public -- but there's no doubt that this is going to be fun to watch.
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Cape Town is Africa's jazz capital. To read more, click here or on "Cape Town Jazz," under "Categories," over on the right.
(PS I had trouble linking directly to the Rainbow Room's website. Here's the address, if you'd like to cut and paste: www.therainbowexperience.co.za/rainbow.html.)