Estelle recently performed at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival (September 2015) in Johannesburg where she featured Chicago born saxophonist/composer Chico Freeman and South African jazz musicians Herbie Tsoaeli on bass and Kevin Gibson on drums. Her 5th Orbit Jazz Club performance on the 30th of September, featuring saxophonist Sisonke Xonti was a sell out. Estelle showcased her solo show From the Blues to Brazil at the London Festival of Cabaret in May 2015 and will be previewing her new solo show at the Vortex Jazz Club on the 30th of December 2015.
She is currently composing new material to preview, record and tour in 2016.
THE SOUND OF YOU TOUR AND RECORDING: Estelle returned to London after touring South Africa between February 2014 and January 2015 introducing the music of Chico Freeman and Jan Pulsford to a new audience. She recorded The Sound of You album
in November 2014 with Chico Freeman on saxophones, Herbie Tsoaeli on bass and Kevin Gibson on drums in Cape Town.
“Such narratives demand thoughtful phrasing and perfect diction as well as a melodious voice. On all counts Kokot delivers. At times, both voice and pianism swing hard when the song demands it. She has produced the kind of album that merits careful listening, and could become addictive.” Gwen Ansell Business Day – February 2015
Highlights include performing at The Rainbow in KwaZulu Natal on ‘Freedom Day’ in 2014 to raise funds for Operation Smile, The Orbit Jazz Club in Johannesburg, the State Theatre in Pretoria for Jazz & African Music Nights and Afrikan Freedom Station. Cape Town performances include Nassau, The Crypt, Straight No Chaser as well as a vocal workshop and solo concert at UKZN in Durban. Estelle was invited to be a guest speaker on the panel for The Music Exchange in Cape Town in 2014.
THE EARLY YEARS: Estelle recorded two singles of her own works for Warner Bros. South Africa, when she was 18. The tracks featured South African piano genius Lionel Pillay producing and arranging and jazz guitar legend Johnny Fourie. Kokot’s stage début in 1987 with modern jazz super group Phambili at Kippies Jazz Club caused a sensation and she went on to guest with South African World Music Stars Bayete, also appearing with Barney Rachabane and Victor Ntoni.
“South Africa, here is a real jazz singer” Don Albert, South Africa
SUCCESS WITH RUSH HOUR: In 1988 Estelle Kokot joined jazz fusion band Rush Hour and the group recorded 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
RUNNING SOLO: After national success with Rush Hour, Estelle went solo working on a variety of projects including a bass and vocal duo called ‘No Place to Hide’. Several full house runs at Kippies Jazz Club alongside Canadian trumpeter Bruce Cassidy in a project called ‘Collaboration’ and a double bill with South African saxophonist Mike Makhalemele formed part of Kokot’s new musical adventures. Estelle has featured as guest vocalist in five Big Band Jazz Galas at Pretoria’s State Theatre and presented her solo show ‘Beyond Belief’ at the Windybrow Arts Festival in 1991 in Johannesburg.
“Kokot’s sweetly melodic voice sets the audience on fire as she sets the keyboard ablaze” Tebogo Alexander
FROM THE BLUES TO BRAZIL AND BEYOND: In the 1990’s Estelle opened new venue in Kalk Bay, Cape Town called ‘Eauver the Top’, brainchild of South African actor Chris Van Niekerk. Her solo show ‘From the Blues to Brazil’ played to packed houses. She performed the show 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” Cape Times South Africa
UK AND EUROPE: After establishing herself as a solo artist on the live scene in London, Estelle released two studio albums ‘Alternative Therapy’ and ‘Information’ with London based line-ups and Craigie Dodds producing and co writing some of the tracks. ‘Where Is the Rainbow’ from her SAMA nominated album ‘Information’ featured on a South African TV series ‘A Place Called Home’. Actor/singer Emmanuel Castis recorded one of the album tracks, ‘I Don’t Know You Anymore’ on his CD South of Nowhere (2008).
“Kokot is a significant talent… Her CD Alternative Therapy is an exceptional album with beautifully wrought songs of poignancy and depth” John Lewis, Time Out, London
MENTORING: On top of her collaborative work as an artist, current and future projects include mentoring up and coming singer-songwriters and composers. She also conducts workshops based on the art of song writing, vocal phrasing and interpretation and more.
“Standards and originals perfectly compatible side by side, Kokot is an excellent arranger of her own and other peoples’ material” John Fordham, The Guardian, London
HERITAGE TOUR – ROOTS REVISITED: “People want to know who Estelle Kokot is. The short answer is that she is one of the custodians of a great jazz legacy. She has played with the elders like Victor Ntoni, Barney Rachabane and other greats. Now she revisits her roots. She is ours.” Steve Kwena Mokwena – Afrikan Freedom Station South Africa.
Estelle completed a nationwide tour of South Africa between July and September 2012 working with five different line-ups from Johannesburg to Cape Town, featuring compositions from her most recent album ‘Information’ and arrangements of standards written by Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and more.
“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.” Eric Alan, All Jazz Radio Cape Town
“Do yourself a favour. Find out where she’s performing next and catch a plane” Gisele Turner, Jazzeye Durban – 2012