20 Questions with SAMA-nominated jazz maestro Gavin Minter

Sit down with Gavin Minter as we chat music, mornings and creative muses.
Gavin Minter

SAMA-nominated for Best Jazz album 2009, Gavin Minter is a singer, saxophonist, percussionist, writer, composer, producer, promoter and music agent. The son of a trumpet player and a jazz singer, Minter has played guitar since age twelve, and in the 80s started playing saxophone in the jazz arena. For the past three decades he’s toured the world and graced every important jazz stage in South Africa. He has just recorded his 7th album of jazz standards in Stockholm after a two-week sell-out tour of Sweden.⁠ Gavin Minter is one of our leading jazz musicians on our weekly jazz programme, For Everything Else There’s Jazz, at Incognito at The Alphen.⁠

1. Jazz for dummies – what are your top 5 artists to get a newbie into jazz?

Miles, Trane, Cannonball, Bird, Mankunku.

2. Who are some of the jazz musicians on your playlist at the moment?

Jarret, Herbie, Trane, Miles, Lionel Loueke, Mandisi Dyantyis, Zawinul, Gretchen, Parlato, Bergonzi, Brecker, Gregory Porter… 

3. Which up-and-coming jazz artist should we keep our eyes (or ears) on?

I love Nobuhle Ashanti’s new album.

4. When you’re not listening to jazz, what else are you into?

Folk, Funk, Rock, Rnb, Soul, African Music, World Music, Fusion.

5. Do you have a creative muse?

Life, and listening to other people’s music.

6. Was there a defining moment that led to your career in music?

I come from a family of musicians, so the idea was always in my head; but at 13 I went to see the Richard John Smith Show at the Alhambra in Durban, where Jonathan Butler was part of the cast, and from that day, I wanted to do nothing else.  

7. As a multi-hyphenate music professional, what’s your instrument of choice?

It used to be saxophone, but now I love singing the most.

8. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?


9. If you could see any musician play live, who would it be?


10. What would you like to have written in your obituary?

He loved music deeply and used his passion to create platforms for others.

11. That’s enough about death – do you have any particular morning rituals?

I walk my dog, Sunny.

12. What are you reading currently?

I normally only read biographies, but at the moment, Isabel Allende’s “A Long Petal of the Sea”.

13. What’s one gadget you can’t live without?

My phone.

14. What’s your favourite thing to cook?

Bolognaise or curry, I am a one-pot chef.

15. What would you put into a time capsule?

A copy of Crescent by Coltrane … or a book on morals and hammers for a future woke population.

16. Where is the last place you went to on holiday?


17. What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians?

Practise, listen and practise.

18. What’s the toughest thing about the music industry?

The industry.

19. And the best?

The music.

20. What’s something most people don’t know about you?

The answer is in the question.