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Johnny Dyani

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Biography

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 Zoo (ESP). In 1970, he played in Don Cherry's trio with Okay Temiz, and sat in with McCoy Tyner in New York. He worked with Abdullah Ibrahim and Alan Shorter (Tes Esat, 1970), and formed his own Earthquake Power in 1971. The following year, Dyani co-founded Xaba with Mongezi Feza and Temiz. He became very active on the European scene, playing with Irene Schweizer, Han Bennink, and with visiting American free jazz musicians such as David Murray, Leo Smith, Joseph Jarman, and Don Moye. His Witchdoctor's Son band made records with Dudu Pukwana and John Tchicai for Steeplechase, and with Swedish and Brazilian musicians for Cadillac (Witchdoctor's Son Together, 1980). His quartet featured guests Don Cherry (Song for Biko, Steeplechase), Pukwana (Mbizo, Steeplechase 1981), and Butch Morris (Grandmother's Teaching, Jam). He recorded in duo with drummer Clifford Jarvis (African Bass, Red 1979), and his septet/octet recorded two albums with Charles Davis (Afrika and Born Under the Heat, both released in 1983). Detail was his '80s trio with John Stevens and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, and Detail Plus featured Bobby Bradford on cornet. His 1985 album Angolian Cry (Steeplechase) was of a quartet with trumpeter Harry Beckett and Tchicai. A year later, Johnny Dyani died suddenly after a performance in Berlin.

Top Songs

Born:

30 November 1945 in East London, South Africa

Genre
Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s

Contemporaries