Bokani Dyer was born on the 21st January, 1986 in Gaborone, Botswana. An auspicious setting in retrospect, where many exiled musicians and artists from South Africa, including Bokani’s father, musician Steve Dyer, were living in exile.
Having musicians around in his early life gave Bokani the profound insight into the life of a musician and sparked a keen interest in pursuing music as a career. After taking up formal piano studies at age 14 for 4 years, he was accepted into the Jazz program at the University of Cape Town where he graduated in 2008 with an Honours degree in Performance and Composition with distinction.
In 2009 Bokani won a scholarship for further study in the SAMRO endowment piano competition. He chose to spend 3 weeks in New York where he was tutored by Jason Moran. In 2011, Bokani Dyer was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank young Artist award for Jazz, bestowed upon visionary artists like Mark Fransman, Andile Yenana and Kesivan Naidoo in past years.
Dyer has recorded two albums under his own name. His debut album, Mirrors was released in 2010, and provides a strong indication of the style and artistic trajectory Bokani continues to pursue. Emancipate the Story (2011), is a recording made possible by the Standard Bank as part of the jazz young artist award.
In August 2013, he was awarded first prize in the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship after competing in the annual competition. He toured Europe with his quintet in May 2014 visiting Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic and the UK. As a result of the tour, he was invited to perform at the London Jazz Festival in November 2014.
Most recently, The Bokani Dyer Swiss Quintet embarked on a 10-show tour of South Africa and Mozambique, performing in Grahamstown, King William’s Town, Johannesburg, Maputo and Cape Town. The tour was a success and promises to be a fruitful collaboration with the Swiss musicians.
The July 2015 tour coincided with the release of Bokani Dyer’s long awaited third album under his own name, “World Music” released on the 1st of July. The album features Buddy Wells (tenor saxophone), Justin Bellairs (alto saxophone), Robin Fassie-Kock (trumpet), Shane Cooper (bass), John Hassan (percussion), Lee-Anne Fortuin (vocals) and Sakhile Moleshe (vocals).
“Bokani Dyer’s debut may come to be remembered as sparks that played a role in bringing about a sea of change in the way London and the world view jazz from Africa”
African Jazz Reviews 2014
“Dyer’s music has an emotional depth and lyricism that one imagines any newcomer wanting to embrace”
“His is a strong, individual sound and an emblem of the rise of a new wave of contemporary jazz voices”
Mail & Guardian
“His compositions were strong, and his ability to navigate changing moods and to lead the group were engaging”
London Jazz News
See short video of Bokani in Orbit in 2015:
View his website