The Orbit Jazz Club and Bistro in Braamfontein has been on my Johannesburg must do list for quite some time, but it took a colleague visiting from Malaysia to organize an evening of Jazz for a group of work colleague – all of whom are likely in bed on a Sunday evening instead of listening to amazing Jazz. The Orbit was hosting a weekend-long Jazz festival and we were there for the culminating show. We arrived before the performance to have dinner which we ate in the downstairs cafe that also has a small performance space as the quartet that started playing at 5:00pm was still finishing their set in the venue upstairs. The restaurant does appear on the Eat Out’s best restaurants in Joburg list, but then again the reason anyone would go to The Orbit is for the Jazz; good food is an added bonus. Full from stuffing myself at a curry buffet lunch in Durban, I ordered a spinach salad – not a sufficient meal to appraise the food on offer.
Just before the Herbie Tosaeli Quintet was scheduled to play at 8:30PM we were ushered upstairs to the main venue. The stage and impressive sound system dominate one end of the room and the bar occupies the opposite side. Fluorescent lights from nearby buildings and streetlights filter in through a row of windows on the far side of the room lending a romantic city ambience to this warm and hip space. The crowd was eclectic and diverse and bedecked in a unique style that is to be expected from an arty crowd that ventures out on a Sunday night. The Orbit clearly appeals to everyone from university students to serious jazz aficionados.
The Herbie Tosaeli Quintet (they appeared to be a septet) was comprised of Herbie on bass, a piano, drums, trumpet, tenor saxo, and two trombones. Herbie Tosaeli is a largely self-taught musician whose 2013 jazz album garnered a South African Music Award and he is a stalwart on the South African jazz scene. The instruments appeared well loved, the bass held together with black electrical tape and the patina of the horns suggested generations of musicians had played the instruments. There was something worn-in and comforting about the upbeat style of jazz of the quintet. With a glass of shiraz in hand and amongst good company, it was a perfect way to spend an evening
The Orbit Jazz Club and Bistro opened a year ago and hosts many jazz performances (some blues, salsa acts) throughout the month and with ticket prices that average R120 for a show, this is a must do for any visiting tourist or Joburg denizens.