UK born South African singer, composer and pianist Estelle Kokot has performed her music from the jazz clubs of South Africa to the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall in London as well as various European Jazz festivals. She’s also one of the first women to have performed at Kippies Jazz Club at the Market Theatre Newtown, in the mid Eighties.
Estelle made her debut with South African Jazz super group Phambili and went on to guest regularly with South African world music stars Bayete, before joining Rush Hour in 1988. Not long after joining Rush Hour, they finalised a record deal with Umkhonto, part of the RPM Records group. The album The Perfect Way, of which Kokot co-wrote the title track with Avzal Ismail, is available via Gallo Africa and has a few bonus tracks added.
The album topped the charts on radio stations in South Africa and thereafter they performed the club and concert circuits nationally. Estelle has also taught extensively in the jazz vocal field focusing her energies on production and song writing techniques and in 1989 retained a post as vocal coach at The Pretoria Technikon’s Jazz department for five years. In 1990 Estelle went solo and did a variety of projects which included doing a daring bass and vocal duo with John Rautenbach called “No Place To Hide.”
Several full house runs at Kippies Jazz Club with Canadian Trumpeter Bruce Cassidy and South African Saxophonist Mike Makhalemele followed. Feature spots at five Big Band Jazz galas at Pretoria’s State Theatre, and a number of guest spots with Barney Rachabane and Victor Ntoni at the A Train Jazz Club in Soweto. In 1991 Estelle opened Kalk Bay Supper Club theatre “Eauver (over) The Top” for proprietor and actor Chris van Niekerk (7de Laan). He primarily created the venue around Estelle to showcase her dramatic and intense performances. The one woman show called ‘From the Blues to Brazil and Beyond ', was an intimate evening with Estelle on piano and voice, taking the listener on a musical journey, singing certain standards in the Blues, Modern and Brazilian idiom as well as her own compositions. In mid 1993 Estelle Kokot relocated to the United Kingdom to further her musical quest.
She has since performed and played in many well known London and European jazz clubs and festivals and is a well respected figure on the London music scene, not only as a musician in her own right, but also as an educator in music. What started out as ‘From the Blues to Brazil and Beyond’ graduated to ‘Beyond Belief’ on a return visit to South Africa. The show toured South Africa for three years, receiving rave reviews and an opportunity to perform at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Windybrow Arts Festival in South Africa in 1993. ‘Beyond Belief’ was also performed at the famous Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street and at various other jazz clubs, festivals and theatres on the European circuit.
Estelle plans to do a South African nationwide tour to launch her new album ‘Information’, in 2007, with tracks co-written by UK-based producer/songwriter Craigie Dodds and recorded in London at Sphere Studios and Eastcote Studios. Chris Parker says, “Regulars at the Vortex, in London, will no doubt be familiar with the compellingly dramatic live work of Estelle Kokot, singer/songwriter, jazz pianist, but this album, flawlessly recorded to showcase the songs and her intimate delivery of same, focuses squarely on her great strengths...”