Music lovers will be treated to an astounding collaboration in July when multi award-winning local pianist Bokani Dyer teams up with four stellar representatives of the Swiss jazz scene: Matthias Spillmann, Donat Fisch, Norbert Pfammatter and Stephan Kurmann.
Aficionados will need to bookmark the first two weeks of July for this brilliant showpiece as it takes to stages in South Africa and Mozambique, with generous support from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg.
The complementary combination of contemporary South African and Swiss jazz was born at The Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel when Dyer did his residency there in May 2014. All four of the Swiss musicians had ties to South Africa, between them having played with such luminaries as Abdullah Ibrahim, Feya Faku, Hilton Schilder, Mac McKenzie, Marcus Wyatt, Herbie Tsoaeli and Makaya Ntshoko, and collaborating with another young South African musician was a natural progression. Dyer, the son of legendary South African musician Steve Dyer, reveals a heritage of diverse influences that embraces his roots as well as his context in the contemporary musical landscape of South Africa. Bokani Dyer creates jazz that is inspired, soulful and expressive, and the interpretation of his music by these four Swiss greats pays tribute to the long-standing influence of South Africa on the Swiss jazz scene, and celebrates and amply complements the piano virtuoso. Audiences can look forward to a sublime music experience with original compositions, a few carefully selected classics and some surprises from Dyer’s upcoming album.
The tour of South Africa and Mozambique will take the group to a variety of venues, from township cultural centres right through to the finest jazz clubs. The Quintet will play their first concert in the prestigious opening slot of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown on Thursday 2 July, with a second performance on Saturday 4 July. The group will then perform at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg, King William’s Town on Sunday 5 July before leaving the Eastern Cape for the bustle of Johannesburg. Respected Braamfontein club The Orbit will host the Bokani Dyer Swiss Quintet for two nights, Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 July, with the Tuesday night being a jam session open to all musicians. From Gauteng, the musicians head north to Maputo, Mozambique where they will play at the Teatro Avenida on Thursday 9 July and the Bar Gil Vicente on Friday 10 July. The tour moves to Cape Town, to Straight No Chaser, recently voted one of the world’s Top 100 Jazz Clubs, on Saturday 11 July, then ends with an afternoon gig hosted by Jazz in the Native Yards, at the Gugs’thebe Cultural Centre in Langa, on Sunday 12 July, and a small jam session at Tagore’s in Observatory on Monday 13 July.
Bookings and enquiries about all shows can be made at the venues or directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 29-year-old Dyer was born in Gaborone. After four years of formal piano studies he was accepted into the Jazz programme at the University of Cape Town where he graduated in 2008. In 2009 a SAMRO scholarship allowed him to spend three weeks in New York where he was tutored by Jason Moran. In 2011, Dyer was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank young Artist award for Jazz. His debut album Mirrors (2010) provides a strong indication of the style and artistic trajectory Bokani continues to pursue. His second recording Emancipate the Story (2011) was made possible by Standard Bank as part of the Young Artist Award. He then won the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship in 2013, and this took him to Europe in May 2014. At The Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland, he teamed up with the present line-up which went on to perform in Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic. Together with two shows in the UK, this resulted in an invitation to perform at the London Jazz Festival in November 2014.
Alto and tenor sax player Donat Fisch has fond memories of performing Abdullah Ibrahim’s African Marketplace with a band leading the protesting youth through the Swiss capital Berne. He thus immediately agreed when he was invited to perform with Marcus Wyatt’s Blue Notes Tribute Orkestra in 2012, with Bokani Dyer’s Swiss line-up in May 2014 and, most recently, with Herbie Tsoaeli in November 2014. Fisch made his entry into the world of music via the guitar and rock before John Coltrane’s Love Supreme pushed him to studying the reeds with the legendary Andy Scherrer. Today he is one of the most persistently individual voices on the Swiss jazz scene. As a very conscious improviser with a broad vocabulary he creates a music that is readily accessible and very often elegant in a way that is not often associated with free jazz. Solitary trips into nature help Fisch – who did his undergrad studies in Biology and is also a gifted painter – to uncover the music deep inside. Info: www.donatfisch.ch
Matthias Spillmann (trumpet and flugel) visited South Africa with his long-standing septet MATS-UP in 2005, an experience that left all band members with deep memories and has had a great impact on their musical development. Spillmann took up the trumpet at the age of 11, receiving a classical training and experiencing his revelation through a Miles Davis record at 14. Next to Miles, he calls Kenny Dorham, Tom Harrell, Gil Evans and Duke Ellington his main musical influences. He studied at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne and the New School in New York City. Mats has performed in numerous venues in Europe and America, including among others the International Jazz Festivals of Bern, Montreux, Lugano, Lausanne, Frauenfeld as well as the 24th and 25th Annual IAJE Conferences in New York and Chicago. As a composer and arranger, he has worked for combos, big bands and brass ensembles in the classical sector, while his regular band MATS-UP performs mainly his original compositions – the music from the bottom of his heart. Spillmann teaches at the Lucerne jazz school. Info: www.matthiasspillmann.ch
Stephan Kurmann (double bass) is known as one of the finest bass players in Switzerland. His perfect timing and his deep sensitivity for musical processes provides each band he plays with special support and a rhythmic basis. Because of this, and due to his innovative solo performances, he has become a much requested artist in Europe. Kurmann’s relationship with South Africa goes back to his formative encounter with the legendary drummer Makaya Ntshoko in the early stages of his career, and has been nurtured in several collaborations with other South African artists such as Mac McKenzie, Hilton Schilder and Feya Faku. Stephan spent several years in Brazil. He deeply immersed in the music of that country and released a number of recordings. Faced with the scarcity of jazz venues he founded The Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel in 1994, which has since become one of the most important venues on the European circuit. His great achievements as a musician and artistic director of the club won him the Swiss Jazz Award in 2013. Info: www.stephankurmann.com
Norbert Pfammatter (drums) counts among the truly distinct personalities in the world of jazz drum luminaries. His play is characterised as much by its dynamism as by its attention to detail: with his keen awareness of sound and an extraordinary love of freedom, Pfammatter composes the moment, while never neglecting the interaction with his co-players. He is thus a drummer who is able to put his own stamp on each band he plays with, without crushing its members. Pfammatter studied with Billy Brooks at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne and today has himself become one of the great teachers. Since 1994 he has assisted numerous young musicians at the Lucerne jazz school to find their voice. In 2008 he joined Feya Faku for his album Hope and Honour – one of some 50 releases documenting his outstanding qualities – and in 2014 performed with Herbie Tsoaeli during his residency at the bird’s eye jazz club in Basel. Info: www.norbertpfammatter.com
Tour dates and times:
Thursday 2 July: 17h00
DSG Hall, The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.
Saturday 4 July: 17h00
DSG Hall, The Standard Bank Jazz Festival, at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.
Sunday 5 July: 14h00
Steve Biko Centre,1 Zotshie Street, Ginsberg, King William’s Town.
Tuesday 7 July: 20h30
Open Jam Session at The Orbit, 81 de Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Wednesday 8 July: 20h30
The Orbit, 81 de Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Thursday 9 July: 20h00
Teatro Avenida,1179 Avenida 25 de Setembro, Maputo, Mozambique.
Friday 10 July: 22h30
Bar Gil Vicente, Avenida Samora Machel 295/43, Maputo, Mozambique.
Saturday 11 July: 20h30
Straight No Chaser, 79 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town.
Sunday 12 July: 15h00
Jazz at the Native Yards, Gugs’thebe Cultural Centre, Langa, Cape Town.
Monday 13 July: 20h30
Tagore’s, 42 Trill Road, Observatory, Cape Town.