Paul Hanmer



Sheer Sound proudly presents the latest recording from piano maestro Paul Hanmer in the form of "Naivasha", Paul's 4th solo album. "Naivasha" is a selection of music mostly written from Paul's home. The album is a dedication to the people in his life and pays homage to them in tracks like 'Fanfare', dedicated to his wife Angela, and "Naivasha" about the Lake of the same name in Kenya, where for Paul, the horn voices of McCoy Mrubata and Marcus Wyatt echo the exceptional bird-life which congregates around this particular lake. Musicians on the album include Barry van Zyl, Basi Mahlasela, McCoy Mrubata, Marcus Wyatt, Kevin Gibson, Sydney Mnisi, and Denis Lalouette, just to name a few.

Paul Hanmer was born in Cape Town in 1961. His musical interest started at an early age. In the early 70’s he began classical piano and theory lessons. After three years at the University of Cape Town, studying for a B.Mus. degree, Paul started working in a variety of different fields. He took leave of absence from UCT to work with guitarist Paul Peterson (who replaced the late Russell Herman in ‘Spirits Rejoice’), who also introduced Paul to many musicians. He performed with Top-40 bands, did jazz standards and played in several original bands.

In 1987 Paul Hanmer moved to Johannesburg and expanded his musical career by working with various cabaret acts and played in musicals and theatre productions, and was exposed to musicians like Khaya Mahlangu and other members of the now defunct Sakhile. It was here that he formed “Unofficial Language” with fellow Capetonian’s Ian Herman (drummer / percussionist for Tananas) and Pete Sklair (electric bass). The trio recorded the successful album ‘Primal Steps’ in 1994, featuring the hit track “Tender Mercies”, for which a music video was made. The album, licensed by Sheer Sound, also featured Mauritz Lotz as a guest on the track “Unofficial Language”. Unofficial Language was to regroup again 4 years later and in 1998 released a second album “Move Moves”, this time through Wildebeest Records. The album also drew on the vocal talents of Wendy Oldfield, Frank Opperman and Waddy Jones.

With his love for collaborative work, Paul has recorded with the likes of Tananas, Miriam Makeba, Ray Phiri, McCoy Mrubata, “Unofficial Language” and has worked with Moses Molelekwa, Fana Zulu, Khaya Mahlangu, Themba Mkhize, Vusi Khumalo
and Pops Mohamed. He also formed part of and toured with Tony Cox’s ‘Cool Friction Band’ and worked on a production with Pops Mohamed, which was showcased, at the “Main”, during the Grahamstown Festival.

In 1997 Sheer Sound released Paul Hanmer’s first solo album ‘Trains to Taung’, featuring the cream of South Africa’s musicians. ‘Trains to Taung’ features Denis Lalouette, Jethro Shasha, Louis Mhlanga, Basi Mahlasela, Neil Ettridge and Andre
Abrahamse. “Trains to Taung” was consequently nominated for three FNB awards and continues to sell in considerable numbers throughout the country.

Jazz and music lovers generally, waited with baited breath for his follow up project, “Window to Elsewhere”. On this album Paul not only enhanced his credibility as one of South Africa’s finest jazz pianists but also as a composer and arranger. The album was recorded live at the Musaion at the University of Pretoria, and was one of the most eagerly awaited new jazz releases of that year. The album incorporates jazz improvisations and classic interpretations all written, composed, and arranged by Paul. Sadly one week before the recording, Paul’s long time friend drummer Jethro Shasha, of Music Ye Africa died of diabetes.
The track, ‘Abrete Sesamo’, (open sesame) is Paul’s tribute to this fine drummer and percussionist who has been attributed with a proportion of the success of ‘Trains to Taung’. ‘Window to Elsewhere’ highlights his ability as a musician as he has never been seen before and adds another glimpse into the psyche of one of South Africa’s most talented musicians. On the album Paul blends numerous styles and instruments including, violins, viola, cello’s, clarinet, guitar and of course piano. Hanmer writes all of the parts himself, and covers material that he has been composing and writing for almost eight years. The album was recorded acoustically over a period of two days incorporating a live recording of a concert given at the end of the second day. “Window To Elsewhere” was launched to much acclaim at the Mega Music Warehouse on the 4th of September and despite the marked contrast with “Trains To Taung” was a hit with the audience. The album features: McCoy Mrubata, Kendall Reid, Barry Van Zyl, Cecil Mitchell (vocals), Kaolin Thomson (vocals), Jonathan
Crossley, Liesl Blokker, Ricardo Colima, Robert Carter, Robert Pickup, Wolgang Jacobs, Costa Nicolaou.

Picking up where “Windows To Elsewhere” left off and the culmination of recordings as far back as “Primal Steps” and “Trains To Taung”, “Playola” emphasises the incredible creative well from which he draws inspiration. Tunes like “Adrians
Chord” reaches back even further to a time when Paul played with “Wired to the Floor”, a critically acclaimed outfit whose influence is still being felt eleven years after the bands’ demise. “Playola”, the third solo album by Paul Hanmer on the Sheer Sound record label, speaks of the constant development of one of South Africa’s most accomplished pianists. A spiritual journey that benchmarks the development of a true musician. The album was recorded at M3 at the SABC and includes a variety of musicians and instruments utilising no less than three
different bass players namely Mark Duby, Pete Sklair and Denis Lallouette. While at the same time drawing on the ever present energies of McCoy Mrubata (sax), Ian Herman (drums) and Louie Mhlanga (guitar). Also included on the recording
are: Peter Jaspan (cor anglais), Kendall Reid (cello), Kevin Gibson (drums), Linda Muller (marimba).

Paul also features on keys as part of the super group, The Sheer All Stars, together with McCoy Mrubata, Sipho Gumede, Errol Dyers and Frank Paco.