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06 June 2011


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Yes,Basil had his reservations about international smooth jazz, the Kenny G type (he said he liked some local stuff which he regarded as fusion), but like a lot of good musicians in Cape Town, he was a practical man. In a conversation I had with him a few years ago he in essence said that he loved his audience and that he loved to play music, and if his audience wanted smooth jazz he was going to give them the best smooth jazz there was.

Rest easy chief.

I knew Basil for many years, since the 60s actually. We never crossed paths on the stand much, both being bassists, but I always loved the way he played and will remember him with much admiration and respect. He played bass the way it should be, with passion and total committment to the music, as if every note was the last he would ever play. I hope he's with Jimmy Blanton and Ray Brown now, because they deserve his company.

Basil was not only a great musician but a great human spirit. His energy was contagious, he made you play; he never went through the motions. It was always a joy to play with him especially when playing material not often heard in Cape Town. He knew all the tunes, changes and sure helped a bunch of less experienced pianists along the musical path.

We will miss you Basil however, the music and that smiling persona you left us will always remain.

I just contacted KarlHeinz Merkel composer & pianist from Germany who lived in Cape Town during the 60's. My husband Will & KarlHeinz both had the honour & pleasure of working with Basil at the Naaz & various other gigs in Sea Point. Basil has been in my husband's thoughts ever since they met & over the years has sung his praises internationally whenever GREAT bass players were mentioned. My husband spoke to Basil last year but only reconnected with KarlHeinz yesterday after 48 years & KarlHeinz asked for Basil's contact details, it is with a heavy heart I have just informed KarlHeinz news of Basil's passing. He will be sadly missed. They both loved his bass playing & boyish charm."The Song Has Ended But The Memory Lingers On."

Hello, Ann. Thanks very much for your warm memories of Basil. Everyone who knew him will know exactly what you mean when you speak of his wonderful bass playing and his boyish charm.

Hi Basil up there, wherever you are, I want you to know, that I never forgot you and will never ever forget you. I still remember, when we walked up the stairs to the "Naaz Jazz club" and you already started to jam on your bass on the way up. Knowing you was one of the strongest impacts and influence in my life and I thank you for that.

Unfortunately I came to late and missed you, but who knows ... maybe we will
play together again in another life.

Rest in peace ... Karlheinz Merkel

I played duo , trio , quartet and quintet music with Basil on guitar or piano for over twenty years and what a time we had . We never once had a bad gig . Instead we had an absolute ball creating wonderful music effortlessly and without fear .

I miss him a lot and on the bandstand most of all .
I would never need to discuss what we would play and in fact would often just play one song into the next . When we played with Kevin Gibson ( which was a lot ) I would just start and Basil would hear immediately and respond like he had been playing that song that way his whole life . What a giant !
We would also as a rule try not to play the same song the same way or in the same key more than once . Basil's musicality was such that one could just do this on the fly . He loved that on the edge approach to the music so much . His eyes would light up , we would both smile and he would just dig deep and find that place every time . There are not too many musicians that one can say one has that rappore with in a lifetime . Basil was certainly one of those key figures to me and too many I am sure . I am eternally grateful for the love and support he showed me as both friend and musician over the years .
I wrote a Blues for him which always reminds me of him called , ' Blues for Basil ' , which he used to love playing . I feel really so blessed to have been able to play with him so often and in terms of swing .. he was King ! A beautiful gentle soul with the sweetest of hearts and a smile that lit up a room . Until we meet again - R.I.P Brother ...

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