Estelle Kokot is currently working on a new album, singing and playing the compositions of Chico Freeman and Jan Pulsford. Jan and Chico will be producing and the full line-up of this exciting project will be announced in 2014! To read more about the project go to http://thesoundofyou.blogspot.co.uk
The Early Years
Estelle recorded two singles with Warner Bros. when she was eighteen, featuring South African piano genius Lionel Pillay and jazz guitar legend Johnny Fourie.
'I used to hitch a ride all over in my teens and early twenties before doing my first gig playing solo piano at the Mmabatho Sun Hotel in the homeland of Bophuthatswana. After relocating to Cape Town I bought a car. Back in Jozi in the mid 1980′s, I’d drive around seeking out gigs and jam sessions. I learnt by listening. We shared chords, ideas and inversions. Very little was written down but this is how we developed our own thing stylistically, our love for music transcending who we are.'
In the mid 1980’s Estelle met jazz bassist and club owner Art Kelly. After playing two songs in the band break she was booked to do a regular solo spot at Rumours in Rockey Street every Thursday. The Black Sun and gigs playing for the miners on Fridays at The President Hotel in downtown Johannesburg followed.
Kokot’s stage debut in 1987 with modern jazz super group Phambili at Kippies Jazz Club created quite a buzz and she went on to guest with South African World Music Stars Bayete, also appearing with Barney Rachebane and Victor Ntoni at the A Train Jazz Club behind Orlando soccer stadium in Soweto.
'South Africa, here is a real jazz singer' Don Albert
Success with Rush Hour
In 1988 Kokot’s life-changing decision to accept an invitation to join jazz fusion crossover band Rush Hour saw the group recording their album ‘The Perfect Way’. It went on to top the charts on radio stations in South Africa and the band embarked on a successful tour of the club, festival and concert circuit.
'Nothing short of stunning' Bongani Hlatshwayo
After her national success with Rush Hour, Estelle went solo, working on a variety of projects including a daring bass and vocal duo called ‘No Place to Hide’. Several full house runs at Kippies Jazz Club alongside talents like Canadian trumpeter Bruce Cassidy in a project called ‘Collaboration’ and South African saxophonist Mike Makhalemele formed part of Kokot’s new musical adventures.
'Kokot’s sweetly melodic voice sets the audience on fire as she sets the keyboard ablaze.' Tebogo Alexander
Estelle was invited to open a new venue in Cape Town called Eauver The Top. The brainchild of South African actor Chris Van Niekerk, her solo show ‘Beyond the Blues to Brazil’ played to packed houses and she also featured as a guest in five Big Band Jazz Galas at Pretoria’s State Theatre and the Windybrow Arts Festival in Johannesburg. She went back to perform solo at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in South Africa after relocating to London in 1993.
'Catch one of South Africa’s premier jazz voices in full fantastic flight' Jeremy Dowson, Entertainment Editor at Cape Times South Africa
After establishing herself as a solo artist on the live scene in London, Estelle released two studio albums ‘Alternative Therapy’ and ‘Information’. ‘Where Is The Rainbow’ from ‘Information’ featured on a South African TV series ‘A Place Called Home’
'Kokot is a significant talent… Alternative Therapy is an exceptional album with beautifully wrought songs of poignancy and depth' John Lewis, Time Out
‘I Don’t Know You Anymore’, co-written by producer Craigie Dodds, featured on the album ‘South of Nowhere’ by Emmanuel Castis, winner of Strictly Come Dancing (South Africa) 2008.
In March 2007 Estelle became Sony ATV’s first writer to receive a nomination for a SAMA (South African Musicians’ Award) for ‘Information’ in the ‘Best Vocal Jazz Album’ category. A performance at Jazz On the Lake for the Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg followed. Other appearances included Kippies Jazz Club and a sell-out evening at The Rand Club showcasing From the Blues to Brazil.
'Her great strengths: a powerful yet intimately confiding vocal style, cogent and persuasive lyrics the subject matter of which ranges from affecting but unflinching despatches from love’s front lines to meditations on contemporary African politics and their human consequences' Chris Parker, review of ‘Information’
Now and Tomorrow
Estelle completed a successful nationwide tour of South Africa between July and September 2012 working with five different line-ups from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
UK-based Kokot is a well-respected figure on the London jazz scene. On top of her collaborative work as an artist, current and future projects include sharing her knowledge and expertise mentoring young up and coming singer-songwriters and composers. She also conducts workshops based on the art of song writing and does one to one master classes. Estelle also freelances as a consultant for venues and promoters, guiding them in their choice of artists and line ups, known for having facilitated many connections in the field.
'Standards and originals perfectly compatible side by side, Kokot is an excellent arranger of her own and other peoples’ material.' John Fordham
'Her rendition of Monk’s classic “Round Midnight” was something else to hear, an incredible and masterful improvisation of the piece like I’ve never heard before. I was completely blown away. Watch out for her next performance at The Mahogany Room' Eric Alan, All Jazz Radio, July 2012
'I always feel recharged when I go back. South Africa is my spiritual home, the soil, the people and the sky. It’s where I come from and it’s in my blood. My time there last year was extra special as I had the opportunity to work with five different line ups in many settings, experience the love at Afrikan Freedom Station, reconnect and work with loved colleagues and enjoy the new connections' Estelle
'Do yourself a favour. Find out where she’s performing next and catch a plane' Gisele Turner, September 2012[
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