Meet Claire Röntsch: saxophonist & composer who’s paving her way through left-field jazz with versatility

Here’s something to tickle your classical tastebuds. While she’s tracked her way through session slots with the likes of Hugh Masekela, Freshlyground, and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Claire Röntsch (née de Kock) is first and foremost a composer and she’s stepping into her own.

Röntsch recently released a live session video of her small band composition “Panic Attack” – which is anything but that – and it’s just the start of her branching out into full composition regalia. The composition is a 10-minute dreamy jazz exploration. Chiming piano lines meet sultry saxophone strains to begin with, before dropping into a playful, drum-driven melody line which urges the languid track forth.

This is far from her first rodeo – Röntsch has been playing with genre and sound for a good decade now. She toured Europe in 2012 and 2014 with the MIAGI Youth Orchestra, she’s graced the CTIJF stages in both 2016 and 2019, and joined the ranks of various jazz ensembles throughout Cape Town.

She performs as lead saxophonist, as well as arranges, with The Lady Day Big Band: an 18-piece all-women ensemble. They move through genres without batting an eyelid. Afro-indie-pop rubs shoulders with snazzy jazz compositions – “African Eyes” get’s the feet moving fast.

Just to further exhibit her versatility in sound, she also arranges and plays with jazz quintet, The Swing Collective, performing her arrangements of popular songs – think PostModern JukeBox only more South African.

Light on her feet, and gorgeously variable, Claire Röntsch is here for your post-modern inspired jazz amusement.