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Song For Biko

Johnny Dyani

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Album Review

Bassist Johnny Dyani had a large tone and a relaxed yet authoritative style. On this classic SteepleChase release he teams up with two other South African expatriates (altoist Dudu Pukwana and drummer Makay Ntshoko) plus cornetist Don Cherry for music that is haunting, emotional, somewhat adventurous, yet also melodic. While "Song for Biko" is the most memorable piece, all five of Dyani's originals (including the 16-and-a-half-minute "Jo'burg-New York") are special. The music combines together Dyani's South African folk heritage with Ornette Coleman's free bop and elements of avant-garde jazz. Highly recommended.

Biography

Born: 30 November 1945 in East London, South Africa

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Johnny "Mbizo" Dyani was from a musical family and began playing the piano and singing in a traditional choir at an early age. At 13, he switched to bass, but would use both voice and piano later on. Chris McGregor hired him for the Blue Notes after hearing him play with pianist Tete Mbambiza; the group left the country in 1964, playing first at the Antibes Jazz Festival, then in Zurich, London, and Copenhagen. In 1966, Dyani toured Argentina with Steve Lacy's quartet, recording The Forest and the...
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Song For Biko, Johnny Dyani
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