Writing bug bites ‘retired’ composer

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

The man who wrote the song Give a Little Love, made famous by the late Zayn Adam, has called on more people to “give a little love” and support local artists.

Ebrahim Khalil Shihab, 70, formerly Chris Schilder, is a composer, mentor and legendary jazz pianist, who returned to Cape Town 18 months ago – after years abroad – where he performed in Middle-Eastern and Far-East countries, including Dubai and China.

The appeal comes as Shihab teamed up with bassist Lionel Beukes, soprano tenor saxophonist Buddy Wells and young drummer Liam Webb, 20, to host a concert at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre on Friday May 27. Beukes, a former member of the 1970s band, Oswietie, has also been plying his trade overseas for the past 15 years, 10 of which he spent in China.

Shihab is a member of the musically talented Schilder family – his brothers are Tony, Richard, Jacky and Philly and his nephews are Hilton and Aldridge.

The Lansdowne resident is a former member of the 1970s popular jazz-rock band, The Pacific Express, whose members included the late Basil “Manenberg” Coetzee, the late Robbie Jansen, Zayn Adam and Jonathan Butler, among others.

The Pacific Express was based at the then Sherwood Lounge, and Shihab wrote and composed all the songs on the band’s first two albums, Black Fire and On Time. It is the second album, On Time, which features the song Give a little love.

Shihab said since Adam’s death in February last year, South Africans have been head over heels with this song all over again – many using it to pay tribute to the singer.

“Zayn made the song, Give a little love, popular. I’ve come to learn over the past year or so, that people assumed that because he sang it, he also wrote the song. However, I wrote the song,” Shihab said.

During his overseas travels, Shihab “did fairly well”, but did not compose any new music then. However, on his return to Cape Town, he had the “urge” to write new material.

“I announced my retirement a few months ago, because I’m getting older, and I’m not too healthy. However, I don’t think as musicians we can really retire. I’m not a rock-and-roller, just a jazz pianist, so I still have the energy to perform, and I’m fortunate that I am playing with good musicians. When the writing bug bit again, I composed 10 new songs for our upcoming concert. I hope people will support us and will be pleased with my new compositions,” Shihab said.

The talent of drummer Webb, the youngest member of the Ebrahim Khalil Shihab Quartet, “has knocked me off my feet”, Shihab said.

“I’m very proud of Liam. We have a lot of young, talented musicians, and I am proud of all of them, but there is just no work to support them. I’m hoping to get our current band on the road for a while – hopefully until the end of the year.”

Plans are also in the pipeline to produce a new CD.

The Ebrahim Khalil Shihab Quartet will play at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, 15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, on Friday May 27, at 8pm. Tickets, at R120 each, are available through Webtickets or at the door for R140 each (those who want to buy tickets at the door, must be there 30 minutes before the concert starts).

Early bird and block bookings, at a minimum of four tickets, cost R95 each, and are only available until today, Thursday May 12. For bookings, call 076 415 7244.

Concert-goers who arrive 30 minutes before the show will be entertained by guitarist Rashaad Kagee, who will also perform between the sets.