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Onwards and upwards

Capetonian Kyle Shepherd recently returned from a successful tour of Denmark and Switzerland and will now showcase his versatility to Standard Bank Joy of Jazz audiences at the end of the month.

The multi-talented musician – who has clearly been influenced by Abdullah Ibrahim – plays the piano and saxophone as well as being a composer. He tells his own musical stories, underpinned by the colourful rhythms of the Cape.

So where does he think he departs from Ibrahim and becomes his own person?

‘For us students of music we just go on finding new influences and finding things that draw us in to whatever music that is, and it becomes incorporated into your sound and you just try and play honestly within that sound. It’s not a decision. It’s not something I think about. I listen to a lot of ethnic music from around the world, and a lot of jazz of course and a lot of classical music as well. All these influences eventually come out at different times and in different situations.

‘Abdullah was my first and main influence because there’s something in his playing style and his music that I relate to. I don’t think his influence will ever leave me but I am picking up new sounds every day.”

What are we going to hear at this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz? ‘I’ll be playing with my quartet of Buddy Wells on tenor saxophone, Shane Cooper who is my regular bass player and Jonno Sweetman on the drums. The music will be from my first album (titled fineART) and new music I hope to record in September for release in early 2011.

It’s difficult to tell you what music we’ll be playing at the end of August because this music is improvised and it changes from performance to performance. I can’t make a forecast of what’s going to happen. To tell you the truth I don’t know myself. We haven’t played the old stuff from fineART in Johannesburg yet, so it’s really the first time we’ll be playing this material in Joburg.

‘I’m very happy about playing at Standard Bank Joy of Jazz. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and to be able to play in Jo’burg has been one of our priorities for the past year.

‘As far as the future is concerned I’m letting the music take me wherever it might go. For instance my solo piano playing has changed quite a lot in the last six months. Many of the musicians I love have the same kind of approach to music so that’s the kind of musician I’m trying to be.”

– Kyle Shepherd performs at the Bassline on Saturday, August 28 as part of Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

–Information supplied by Standard Bank Joy of Jazz

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