Keegan Steenkamp is a Cape Town based trumpeter, composer and trumpet teacher from Muizenberg, Cape Town. At 17 he made his first appearances on the Cape Town music scene in the band ‘Khoitrans’ and at the famed Swingers Monday Night Jazz Jams.
Keegan has since gone on to perform at some of South Africa’s biggest stages including Rocking The Daisies and Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and has also performed in Istanbul, Beijing and Shanghai. Over the past 3 years Keegan has performed extensively with MSMF jazz quartet, and features as a sideman for many artists from all over the country.
We asked Keegan a few questions in the lead up to his performance at the First Thursdays Sessions.
Let’s start at the beginning, where did the love for playing music begin and what lead you to pursue the trumpet of all instruments? If we’re talking right at the beginning, probably through hearing a lot of good music from a young age, and fortunately having instruments at home to make noise on. Further down the line, my high school needed wind players, I had a choice between the trumpet and saxophone, and chose the trumpet ’cause the trumpet teacher there had a nice looking red trumpet.
What is your experience of being a jazz musician in South Africa in 2019? I can only speak myself here. So far so good. Lots of young musicians around my age are sounding great and keeping each other motivated. It also feels like somehow we’re creating more places and opportunities to play (not just jazz but music in general). Something Mandla Mlangeni was encouraging musicians to do a few years back. Speaking of which, there’s this star-studded generation slightly older than us doing amazing work and showing a way forward.
What advice would you give to young musicians looking to break into the local and international jazz scene? Practice! I think that if you sound good enough, the right people will notice. It helps if you’re in an appropriate place though. So go to as many jam sessions as you can, and then go overseas and go to as many jam sessions as you can. It’s something I’m still figuring out for myself but as I said, so far so good.
Who’s doing interesting stuff on the local scene that you’d recommend checking out? Sean Sanby is getting some nice music together for an album recording soon. There’s a really nice weekly gig at Hanks on a Tuesday night, people in the audience just talk too much sometimes. Darren English also started a weekly jam on Thursdays. He’s someone I’d recommend having a listen to, and also someone I’d recommend young jazz musicians have a chat to.
Top 5 ‘desert island’ albums (of any genre)?
Only five!? For now, it’s:
Sonny Rollins – The Bridge
Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil
Bob Marley – Kaya
MF DOOM – Mm.. Food
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway
Where can people follow your musical movements and find more of your music?
Call me! Also Instagram, YouTube, and music streaming platforms in a couple of months.
The Keegan Steenkamp Trio performs at the First Thursdays Sessions on Thursday 6 June 2019. The event series is presented by Auchentoshan Single Malt Whisky, produced by Thursdays Projects, and hosted at The Gin Bar. The performance starts at 9pm sharp, with a DJ set by Holy Funk from 10pm. Upstairs at the Gin Bar, 64a Wale Street.