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Neil Diamond tribute back again

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By Latoya Newman

FOR popular Durban entertainer Grant Bell it’s probably the soulfulness and “honesty” of the music of yesteryear that keeps it as fresh today as it was when it first broke out on the music scene.

Tonight caught up with Bell, of The Gee Jays fame, to chat a bit about The Jazz Singer, a tribute show to Neil Diamond for which he is the front man.

Paying tribute to the musical genius of Diamond, The Heritage theatre brings back (by popular demand) a fourth season of The Jazz Singer.

“The music of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s is more timeless. It’s more soulful and honest,” Bell said, explaining why he thinks these kinds of shows that cover the classics are so popular.

“Also, people grew up on this kind of music, so they have that attachment to a previous time. It is largely a simpler form of music, a lot easier to listen to and digest.”

Explaining his own passion for Diamond Bell said: “I was lucky because my mother had this eclectic collection of music ranging from (Frank) Sinatra to Classic and then somewhere in the middle was this Pop Rock, Neil Diamond…

“But it is not just his music, his skills in song writing are testimony to his great talent.”

With this season marking the sixth time that Bell and crew will be doing the show in eight years, he said there’s an array of factors that have made the show return time and again by popular demand.

“Firstly there are the die hard Neil Diamond fans, but people seem to enjoy the actual musicality of the show.

“We have a great band and at some stage everyone has a chance to sing a song. It’s really a great band with the likes of Barry Thompson and others who are great players.

“People seem to enjoy the wide range of songs from ballads to rock, and we engage the audience… the response that we’ve had to this particular show from the first time we did it has been amazing. The fact that it has been repeated so many times bares testament to the kind of show it is,” explained Bell.

A press release said the show features many of Diamond’s hit records such as, Sweet Caroline, Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, Porcupine Pie, Red Red Wine, I Am I Said, Cracklin’ Rosie, Holly Holy as well as others he wrote for movies such as Hello Again, Love on The Rocks, Heartlight and Song Sung Blue.

The show features Barry Thompson, Mali Sewell, Jason Andrew and Shaun Draght and is fronted by Bell, with keyboards and musical direction by Dawn Selby.

• The Jazz Singer runs from February 5 to 24. Tickets, which include a two-course meal, are R195 Wednesday to Saturday, and R165 for Sunday lunch.

Bookings 031 765 4197.

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