national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


(Pic by Magriet Theron: Bokani Dyer)

Standard Bank Young Artist Winner for Jazz 2011

Jazz pianist Bokani Dyer (24) comes from a strong musical family and as the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz, he is building on his musical heritage with a unique flair.

“The Standard Bank Award is a blessing. Being recognized as someone doing something worthwhile is encouraging,” said Dyer. “I look at the previous winners of this award who are all musicians whom I admire and respect, so to be a winner of this award is a great honour. I feel it will give me some momentum at this early stage of my career by creating a platform for my music to be heard.”

Dyer graduated from the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town, with a Bachelor of Music (Hons) first class in June 2008. During his studies in 2006, he was chosen by Andre Peterson for a youth band that took part in a summer school in Sogne, Norway. He was also part of the Standard Band National Youth Jazz band in Grahamstown, which played at the Johannesburg International Jazz festival, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and toured Sweden. He played for the University of Cape Town Big Band and also played at the Arts Alive concert with Steve Dyer, Dorothy Masuku, Thandiswa Mazwai and Siya Makhuzeni.

“I've always had a love for music, but developed a liking for jazz from the age of 16 after I had been playing for a few years. I was introduced to jazz by my father, Steve Dyer, who used to play jazz music in the car and at home often. Jazz is a beautiful art form which allows for deep exploration through spontaneous creativity,” said Dyer.

In 2007, he became a member of the Shannon Mowday band and performed at all the major jazz festivals in South Africa. He also joined leading South African Afro-Jazz guitarist Jimmy Dludlu’s band that frequently performs around the country on the South African festival circuit and abroad. He travelled to Sweden in March 2007 with his own trio to perform at the Swedish Jazz celebration held in Lulea, and also performed at Fasching, the iconic Swedish jazz club in Stockholm. In 2007 he formed Plan Be, an original groove music band with talented vocalist, Sakhile Moleshe and was a runner-up in the Fine Music Radio travel awards competition.

After graduating in 2008, Dyer’s trio became a regular fixture at the popular Green Dolphin restaurant in Cape Town and he played at the Cape Town International Jazz festival with Jimmy Dludlu and toured with the band in and around South Africa. They were also a backing band for high profile jazz artists, including Jonas Gwangwa and Judith Sephuma. Dyer then joined the Moreira Project led by Mozambique saxophonist, Moreira Chonguica for the launch of his second album in Namibia, Mozambique and Cape Town.

In 2009, Dyer performed with Judith Sephuma at the annual Jazzathon held in the amphitheatre at the Waterfront, Cape Town and travelled with Jimmy Dludlu to Davos, Switzerland to play for the South African delegation at the World Economic Forum. He also toured to Zanzibar with Moreira Chonguica to play at the Sauti za Busara music festival in February 2009. At the Cape Town International Festival he performed with Rus Nerwich and the Collective Imagination. He was also sponsored by Laurentina Premium to perform with the Moreira project at the Mozambique Jazz Festival in April. He was Runner-up in the Samro jazz piano competition.

A highlight in his career was being involved for the first time in a concert in Botswana, his country of birth, featuring in a concert with Steve Dyer, headlined by Oliver Mtukudzi. In 2010 he again travelled to Davos, Switzerland with Jimmy Dludlu for the World Economic Forum, and performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with the Bokani Dyer Trio.

“Bokani is a very impressive young musician, technically skilled beyond his years and artistically creative in a wide array of jazz genres. He is undoubtedly someone who is going to add to the breadth of South African jazz in the future,” said Alan Webster, Director of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, Grahamstown.

Dyer lists Bheki Mseleku, Moses Molelekwa, Andile Yenana, Winston 'Mankunku' Ngozi locally and Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Bobo Stenson internationally as some of his jazz heroes.

“Inspiration is a weird thing,” said Dyer. “It doesn't always come from likely places, like a conversation or the weather or spending time with children. The energy behind the music is what inspires me. It is the character and feeling behind the sound that really matters.”