Bokani Dyer Trio – Neo Native
(DyerTribe DYCD008. CD Review by Jon Turney)
The internet makes music elsewhere easier to follow from a distance, and it’s been fascinating to get glimpses of several notable young keyboard players gracing the current South African jazz scene. Botswana-born Bokani Dyer is among them and for his fourth studio release he focusses on the classic piano trio format.
Regular cohorts Sphelelo Mazibuko on drums and in-demand bass player Romy Brauteseth provide powerful rhythmic support as Dyer explores a range of piano styles. The four short tracks that make up the 11-minute African Piano Suite epitomise the approach, each dipping into different streams that feed his music – from the rolling rhythms of Nguni, to the sunny little dance of Chihapa and the more contemporary beats driving Mutapa.
Elsewhere, Dollar Adagio muses obliquely on a few chords then picks them up more purposefully, though retains a pleasantly languid air. Fezile is an up tempo romp in which you may fancy you hear shades of McCoy Tyner as well as Bheki Mseleku, and Kgalagadi keeps things simple with traditional, sung, intro that yields to a new tune, explored at first on Rhodes, then on acoustic piano. Like that one, most of the pieces develop gradually in mid-tempo. Dyer has technique to spare but deploys it sparingly, lingering on simple figures with plenty of space around them. It’s an appealing approach, easy to listen to without losing depth of feeling.
The final cut, billed as a bonus track, features the ultra-melismatic style of young Moroccan Gnawa vocalist Asmaa Hamzaoui, and takes things in a different direction. The North and South African sounds blend here to intriguing effect – a taster, perhaps, of work to come. Meantime, this enjoyable, committed session will do very nicely.