Bringing back the big sound in jazz music

Pianist, composer, and producer, Bokani Dyer. Picture: Independent Newspapers Archive

Pianist, composer, and producer, Bokani Dyer. Picture: Independent Newspapers Archive

Published Mar 25, 2024


Critically acclaimed pianist, composer, and producer, Bokani Dyer’s new Radio Sechaba project sets the mood for an uplifting and thought provoking Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF).

In a departure from his previous work, Dyer will be bringing a seven-piece ensemble, Radio Sechaba, to the CTIJF in May which in his own words, is less geared to a concert hall or a jazz club but more easily translatable on a bigger stage and outdoor experience.

The project draws inspiration from Nina Simone’s famous quote: “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times”, which Dyer has interpreted in Radio Sechaba through his exploration of “what makes a nation in the current moment in South Africa”.

The fact the multiaward-winning artist has created a new project around nation building, unity and identity comes as no surprise.

Dyer was born in 1986 in Gaborone, Botswana, where many artists from South Africa, including his father, musician Steve Dyer, were living in exile. His family moved back to South Africa when he was a child where, as the son of a black mother from Botswana and a white South African father, he has long been interrogating issues of identity and nation building.

The album, recorded over four-years and released on the Brownswood Recordings label, will form the crux of Radio Sechaba’s performance at the CTIJF, and will give audiences an opportunity to explore Dyer’s new narrative of building community rather than all getting behind the one flag of a nation.

Besides the big sound that comes with a seven-piece that includes drums, bass, guitar, and two trumpets, Radio Sechaba a will present two vocalists, including Dyer.

On the singing on the album and at the upcoming CTIJF, Dyer said that singing has empowered him.

“Using language tells a specific story – the song writing is a literary work somewhere between a short story and a poem, and for me it’s a way to speak to people in words, and putting those to music is a powerful medium to communicate in a direct way, which feels very empowering.”

The CTIJF will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on May 3 and 4.

Cape Times