Bokani Dyer Emancipated at the Vortex

BokaniDyer-live
Pick-up band’ may be one of the great pejoratives in jazz terminology, but it does not mean that a group of musicians pulled together in extremis cannot produce superlative results. This quite thrilling performance by young South African pianist-composer Bokani Dyer and his British combo is a case in point, but then again the fact that he had bandleaders and co-leaders in his ranks – drummer Seb Rochford, double bassist Neil Charles, alto saxophonist Chris Williams, tenor saxophonist Soweto Kinch – puts him at something of an advantage.

It may have passed the audience by, but, between them, the appointed sidemen have scooped Mercury nominations and also backed anybody from Beck to Speech Debelle. The high standard of musicianship and relaxed stance that comes with the experience of holding down a gig with minimal rehearsal time, as is true of tonight, can be heard in both sets. The band feels uncannily familiar with the very intricate scores.  

That said, Dyer’s music has an emotional depth and lyricism that one imagines any newcomer wanting to embrace. Over two absorbing sets that feature songs from his debut Emancipate The Story, the players grow with the audience into material which takes a widescreen view of jazz, classical and South African musical history. Looming large is the stately modalism of McCoy Tyner, with Dyer’s hypnotic left hand lines being counterweighted by a hard-working right, which impresses on lengthy, spiralling phrases.

Occasionally, Dyer’s sense of flourish takes him towards Liszt’s rhapsodic hyperactivity, but this ornate prettiness is complemented elsewhere by the sway and swirl of a township groove epitomised by legends such as the Blue Notes. While Charles and Rochford provide an entirely suitable rhythmic backbone for the material, observing the need for precision all the while keeping the beat supple, Kinch and Williams infuse long-toned themes with the requisite warmth that often crackles into a fire.

The combination of the two reeds is perhaps one of the most underrated in small group jazz, and the ability of the players to alter the character of the front line, from vocal-like close harmony to stark, eerie wide harmony, proves a key feature of the gig. Winston Mankunku and Dudu Pukwana would surely have approved. On the strength of this performance it would make great sense for Dyer to record this group the next time he’s in London. 

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo by Roger Thomas

 

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calypso-Influenced Improv At Helsinki's We Jazz

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calyps…

As Finland celebrates its centenary as an independent state this...

Read More.....
Sunny Murray 1937 – 2017

Sunny Murray 1937 – 2017

  Drummer Sunny Murray, who passed away on 7 December, will...

Read More.....
Fifth edition of Jazz FM Awards to take place on International Jazz Day in 2018

Fifth edition of Jazz FM Awards to take …

The Jazz FM Awards will return in 2018 at Shorditch...

Read More.....
Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar, Gdańsk

Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar…

Jazz Jantar is one of the less well-known Polish festivals...

Read More.....
Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Borders In St. Petersburg

Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Bord…

Being an American jazz singer in St. Petersburg is a...

Read More.....
Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continues with Vol.6 Miles Davis & John Coltrane - The Final Tour

Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continu…

The widely acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series issues its sixth...

Read More.....
Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at P…

Award-winning Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans (above) is set to play...

Read More.....
Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Shines At Jazztopad

Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Sh…

  This 14th edition of the nine-day Jazztopad festival in Wroclaw...

Read More.....
Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Residency

Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Re…

Celebrated saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton brings his semi-scripted gamut...

Read More.....
Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engage at Elgar Room

Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engag…

The Royal Albert Hall's highly accommodating venue-within-a-venue the Elgar Room...

Read More.....
Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

This year's Thelonious Monk centenary events have rightly focused on...

Read More.....
George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

  There never was a jazz record producer more important than...

Read More.....
Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Japanese ultra-shaman Keiji Haino has hooked up with US sludge-metal...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han Bennink and the Italian new wave signal JAZZMI's ambition

Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han …

 Milan's new jazz festival is inspired by London and it's...

Read More.....
Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interchange Dectet gather for Gateshead 2018

Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interc…

The line-up for next year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018 programme

Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran…

The first names have been announced for the 22nd edition...

Read More.....
Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ronnie Scott’s

Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ron…

"Awesome!'' "That's great!" "Thank you so much". Mike Stern's bonhomie...

Read More.....
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound sinister and sublime at Kings Place

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound…

  There are very few composers now writing world class material...

Read More.....
The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

To prise apart the increasingly converging din of his two...

Read More.....
Dan Cartwright Quartet Captivate At The Verdict

Dan Cartwright Quartet Captivate At The …

  Even comparatively hyped new artists can really struggle to fill...

Read More.....
Pharoah Sanders, Denys Baptiste and Alina Bzhezhinska make for cosmic concert for Alice and John Coltrane

Pharoah Sanders, Denys Baptiste and Alin…

Banks of lights sketch out a looming angel presence on...

Read More.....
Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band Receive Government Export Funding

Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band Receiv…

Jazz-influenced experimental musician, composer, conceptualist and now political protester Matthew...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directors series and tour

Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directo…

Multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney Pine has been announced...

Read More.....
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoustic alchemy at Ronnie Scott’s

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoust…

Mark Guiliana is associated with a certain level of jazz-fusion...

Read More.....
Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

"If you have to ask, you don't know by now...

Read More.....
Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

This month sees two jazz photography exhibitions take place –...

Read More.....
Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Islington Assembly Hall

Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Isli…

Miles Mosley has already started making waves in the UK...

Read More.....
Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth The Fifth Man At Tampere Jazz Happening

Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth…

  A curious sight catches the keenest of eyes on the...

Read More.....
Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings Place Retelling Of Their Traveller's Tale

Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings…

It was during the late 1980s that John Surman (above)...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at Barbican

Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at…

In these turbulent times small things can provide a reassuring...

Read More.....
Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from the EFG London Jazz Festival

Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from t…

This year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

  Though it may have escaped many of the thousands of...

Read More.....
Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfest Berlin

Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfes…

  For his third and final edition of Jazzfest Berlin, the...

Read More.....
Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and club programme highlights as 25th EFG London Jazz Festival gears up

Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and c…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off its milestone...

Read More.....
Tommy Smith goes it alone and together with Brian Kellock

Tommy Smith goes it alone and together w…

Saxophonist Tommy Smith takes his latest project home this month...

Read More.....
Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok Amor unleash improv anarchy at Enjoy Jazz

Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok …

Some festivals cram everything into a single weekend, but Enjoy...

Read More.....

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calypso-Influenced Improv @wejazzhelsinki @binkerandmoses @ManLikeBinks… https://t.co/iNgpfgzBU1
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Kevin Le Gendre pays tribute to master-drummer Sunny Murray https://t.co/n9DdZp4NeR … @k_le_gendre https://t.co/TpEXuHjyas
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA