For IN·FLO·RES·CENCE Bokani Dyer was commissioned by Reece Ewing to create a composition for solo piano around 1 minute in length responding to the changes to daily life during the global coronavirus outbreak. As part of the platform hosted by The Showroom, this individual piece and 9 others will all be interpreted and performed by the project’s first Artist-in-Residence, Pianist Elio Villafranca, throughout the duration of the project.
Image: Bokani Dyer. Photo: Brian Homer
Bokani’s special composition For Better or Worse communicates as a meditation on how to cope with an inescapable situation and embracing a moment for reflection, silence, space, and stillness. Technically, it delves into how alternating movements always return to a central theme representing a mood of being in limbo – in a suspended reality.
In the below intimate conversation with Kevin Le Gendre (Broadcaster and Writer of Don't Stop the Carnival: Black British Music, 2019), Bokani discusses the jazz legacy and spirit in Johannesburg; South African pianist Moses Molelekwa as a source of inspiration considering his seamless crossover across sonic spaces of jazz and electronics; his experience of lockdown in Joburg; the state of racial divides, socio-economic inequality, and community disenfranchisement being exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic; the enduring struggle for musicians currently without opportunities to perform live; reconsidering ideas of gathering; and how IN·FLO·RES·CENCE functions as a global community for digital gathering.
For Better or Worse Score © Bokani Dyer, 2020.
On his most recent album Neo Native:
'I wanted to explore the piano in a different way, inspired by African idioms and musical instruments, seeing how it is possible to give those a voice through the piano. This suite is a selection from what will feed into the later solo project, and I’m interested in whether, for people listening to it, it can communicate on a level that’s inherent in ‘Africanness’ before ‘jazzness’.' – Bokani Dyer
Bokani Dyer is a South African pianist, composer and producer. Born in 1986 in Gaborone, Botswana – where many artists from South Africa, including his father, musician Steve Dyer, were living in exile during apartheid – Dyer moved to South Africa as a child in 1993. Having musicians around in his early life gave Bokani the profound insight into the life of a musician and sparked a keen interested in pursuing music as a career. After taking up formal piano studies at age 14 for 4 years, he was accepted intro the Jazz programme at the University of Cape Town where he graduated in 2008 with an Honours degree in Performance and Composition with distinction. He is a part of The Bokani Dyer Trio – Bokani Dyer (piano), Romy Brauteseth (bass) and Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums). Bokani has recorded three jazz albums to critical acclaim.
Alongside his jazz career, Bokani also explores various other genres including electronic music, classical piano, and salsa. These various influences have made him aware of the versatility of the piano as an instrument. ‘In my own compositions, I have consciously allowed all of the music which I have encountered to flow into my music to create a new idea of “world music” where there is music with no borders,’ he explains. This led to an interest in exploring traditional styles of music from Africa, particularly percussion rhythms.