Up close with Bokani Dyer

August marks the dusk of thecoldest season of the year andushering us into spring is jazzpianist Bokani Dyer alongside seasonedjazz artists, his father, Steveand Lister Boleseng. The Dyer duoand Lister are expected to set the stagealight in a live performance that willtake place this Friday at the BotswanaCraft.At only 26 years of age, Bokanihas already won several awards in hiscraft and is set to perform at the 2013Standard Bank Joy of Jazz in Johannesburgthis month. The festival whichhappens annually attracts 20 000 jazzlovers across seven avenues in Johannesburg’sNewtown cultural precinct.As his name implies, Bokani is aMotswana who was born and bred inGaborone but also lived Lobatse andJohannesburg.


“I was born in Gaboroneand spent most of my earlieryears between Gaborone and Joburg.I also lived in Lobatse for a few yearsduring primary school,” he says.Bokani’s dad, Steve, is a legendaryjazz musician who settled in Botswanaas a refugee and got married to aMotswana lady in yester years and asit would seem, the apple did not fallfar from the tree. Relating on the exactmoment he fell in love with music,Bokani says, “I realized the power ofmusic when I was around 14. I waslistening to a lot of different musicat the time and reveled in the thoughtthat one could use the craft of musicto inspire and entertain.


That is when Idecided to pursue it.”The fi rst instrument he owned wasfl ute given to him by his father andmuch later, on his 16th birthday, hismother bought him his fi rst piano asa gift, which he felt an instant connectionto more than any other instrument.As fate would have it, today he is oneof the youngest jazz pianist around.In 2011, he won the Standard BankYoung Artist Award for Jazz.He fi nds it diffi cult to defi ne hismusical style as it is varied and drawsmuch of his infl uence from South Africanjazz, something which is not surprisingas he grew up to the sounds ofHugh Masekela, Moses Molelekwa,Bheki Mseleku, and a few internationalgreats like Miles Davis, WayneShorter, Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans.


This will be the second time Bokaniwill be sharing the stage with hisfather, the fi rst being 2009 at the BotswanaCraft. “We are featuring a lineup of great musicians including FeyaFaku, Tlale Makhene and MthunziMvubu so the audience can expect ahigh-energy performance of some newmaterial and some classic South Africanjazz,” he says.