Faces of Africa 02/19/2017 Jazz Island man

0
346

 

 

Jazz is a genre of music that originated in African American communities in the United States

in the late 19th and early 20th century. It emerged in the form of independent popular

musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African American and European American

musical parentage with a performance orientation.

Jazz spans a period of over a hundred years, encompassing a range of music from ragtime to

that of the present day.

Philippe Thomas is a certified trumpeter. His dad was forced to sell pigs to buy Philippe and

his brothers’ instruments. From there on, they formed a band with his five brothers and his

dad as their leader. Philippe says it was his dad that encouraged him to play music. “Before I

learned how to play jazz I already loved it. My dad used to rear animals. When he managed

to sell one he would buy an amplifier,” told Thomas.

Philippe Thomas, a popular jazz trumpeter in Mauritius.
Philippe Thomas, a popular jazz trumpeter in Mauritius.

At the age of fourteen, his dad bought him a trumpet and he could only play after school and

during the holidays, but he confesses sometime he didn’t get to finish his homework

because he was busy playing his trumpet.

“The band improved steadily and people started coming along. When we managed to get a

set together we played at weddings. In those days they only used live bands.”

He started off playing in clubs and soon he went to Paris .The sky was not the limit for him.

He got a scholarship and joined school of music in the USA. He graduated with the highest

honors.

Young Philippe with his five brothers performing. His dad (sitting in a black suit) had founded the Blue Valiants band.
Young Philippe with his five brothers performing. His dad (sitting in a black suit) had founded the Blue Valiants band.

After finishing college, he lived in America and France and only returned to Mauritius a

decade ago. He founded his band, the Philippe Thomas Quintet, a jazz group.

Philippe and his crew make a living through jazz concerts and recordings.

Philippe’s friend Jose Perez passed on and left behind a music school Mo’Zar Espace Artistic

Music Training Institute. It almost collapsed but Philippe decided to take over and pass on

his jazz skills to other people.

“He (Thomas) has taught us many new songs, taken us to various places and also

encourages practicing more so that when playing music we play well,” told one of his

students.

 Students in one of the classes learning how to play various instruments. Phillipe teaches them.
Students in one of the classes learning how to play various instruments. Phillipe teaches them.

So after all day teaching and training his students, Philippe is a happy man knowing he is also

promoting jazz directly in the country.

Three of his brothers have dropped out of the band because of other careers and have remained three of them who do it professionally. Though it seems all fun and exciting to do

music as a full time job, Phillippe says sometimes it’s hard for them because Jazz audience is small in Mauritius but they have not given up.

Philippe is convinced that with time people who have not discovered jazz, with time they will

as he says “slowly but sure the crowd will grow.”