Sheer Sound

July 15, 2014

Kyle Shepherd Trio to launch Double Album

Kyle Shepherd Trio - Dream State

Renowned South African pianist and composer (2014’s Standard Bank Young Artist of the year [SBYA]) – Kyle Shepherd – launches his new album “Dream State” with a live concert in Johannesburg on Sat the 26th of July 2014. Presented by Wits Theatre, this show is one of the highlights of the Wits 969 Festival programme.

“Dream State” – Shepherd’s 4th album release (his previous 3 album releases all nominated for SAMA awards) – is a double album of 21 original tracks of impeccable jazz based music from one of South Africa’s most progressive pianists and leading composers of his generation.

The album, and its launch at WITS, mark and celebrate the 5th anniversary of the existence of the Kyle Shepherd Trio, which features Kyle Shepherd on piano; Shane Cooper (2013 SBYA recipient (and also that year’s jazz SAMA award winner)) on double bass; with Jonno Sweetman on drums. [The album itself also features pre-eminent SA saxophonist Buddy Wells on 5 tracks].

In this studio recording, the Trio, magnificently captures the fluidity, intensity and inventiveness of its live performances, that have entranced audiences across South Africa and also abroad. There is a natural synthesis and well-honed interplay that has evolved between Shepherd, Cooper and Sweetman over the years that has enabled and seen them explore the sound relationships between a variety of different music genres:

“Firstly, what makes this new album different from the three albums I’ve released before – in which I’ve paid special homage to my culture and heritage as a South African and African – is that it contains compositions that I’ve written specifically with this trio in mind and taken into account our unique individual attributes and expressiveness that ultimately forms the basis of the cohesiveness of the ‘sound community’ that we’ve become and the dialogue that we share with each other during our trio performances. Secondly, with this album, we are exploring the inter-relationships within the universal sound spectrum between different genres ranging from classical music, progressive rock and Jazz music through to free improvisation, and breaking down some of the artificial boundaries that exists (mostly in our minds) between the original composition structural form and space – all in the most uninhibited and imaginative way possible,” says Shepherd.

In the album’s liner notes, renowned arts journalist, Percy Mabandu succinctly described the ethos of the trio in this way:
“There’s a palpable connectedness they share as players, a connection that also touches attuned audiences at their live performances too. This band is on a search for more than beautiful notes. They are asking more of the music. Its corporeal and ethereal aspects are invoked into the simultaneous sound ritual. Each performance takes on the nature of a meditation and as Zim Ngqawana said, ‘the music must lead us towards ourselves’. ”

Shepherd is ecstatic about the release of this double album and equally grateful to Standard Bank for the SBYA award. “I am truly honoured and humbled to be part of a long lineage of South African artists who are recipients of this prestigious award. I’m also grateful that with this Award, Standard Bank has given me the opportunity to record all this work and release it on a double album.

‘Dream State’ which was recorded by Peter Auret at the Sumo Sound Recording Studio, mixed by Pål Svenre (Sweden) and mastered by Tim Lengfeld at TL Mastering, is the 27-year old pianist’s 4th Album. His previous critically acclaimed releases, ‘fineART’, ‘A Portrait of Home’ and ‘South African History !X’, have all garnered South African Music Award nominations.

Shepherd’s career nationally and internationally has grown tremendously since the release of his debut album in 2009 – with notable concert appearances, as well as international album releases (notably in Germany and Japan). Shepherd is versatile, and performs either as a solo pianist, as a trio or quartet, as well as other formats. Using this variety Kyle Shepherd has featured at (amongst others) the following impressive venues and festivals:
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord and L’Onde Théâtre et Centre d’art as part of the Festival d’Automne à Paris (France). The Bird’s Eye Jazz Club (Switzerland), Jazzwerkstatt Festival Bern (Switzerland), Reformierte Dorfkirche Kleinhüningen (Switzerland), Klubschule St. Gallen (Switzerland). Der Sendesaal, (Germany), Hallenbad Kultur Am Schactweg, (Germany), Body & Soul Jazz Club (Japan), Shikiori (Japan), Kaho Gekijo Kabuki Theatre (Japan), The Aarhus Jazz Festival (Denmark), The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (South Africa), The Joy of Jazz Festival (South Africa), The Harare International Festival – HIFA (Zimbabwe),The Tianjin International Jazz Festival (China), No Black Tie (Malaysia), MICA (India), B-Flat (India) and The Gonsalves Mansion ‘Home of Jazz’ (India).

Shepherd will be performing a solo piano concert at The Tokyo Jazz Festival (Tokyo, Japan) on the 7th of September 2014 and with Kesivan &The Lights at Carnegie Hall, New York, USA on the 30th of October 2014. The Kyle Shepherd Trio is billed to play at The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival, Sandton, on the 27th September 2014. Shepherd is currently completing a series of performances at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival (National Arts Festival, Grahamstown).

Copies of the new CD will be on sale at the launch concert and at major retail stores in South Africa, and will also be downloadable via all major digital platforms worldwide as of end July 2014.

Johannesburg Launch Concert Details:

Date: Sat 26 July 2014
Venue: WITS Great Hall – WITS University [1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein] (JHB)
Time: 20:30
Cost: R40 – R50
Wits 969 Festival Website:

A Cape Town launch concert date will be announced shortly…

April 2, 2014

Bra Hugh Masekelas latest – a music video tribute to Bra Alf Kumalo

Hugh MasekelaHugh Masekela will celebrate his 75th birthday on April 4th in New York City with a concert performance at Lincoln Center for their Jazz At Lincoln Center series, with featured guests Paul Simon and Sibongile Khumalo.

In addition the ageless Masekela will be releasing his latest music video, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. Taken from latest album “Playing At Work”.

The video is a unique township mbaqanga take on the Bob Dylan classic. It is also a moving tribute to Bra Hugh’s lifetime friend, and legendary South African photographer Alf Kumalo.

The video features never-before-seen footage of Bra Alf Kumalo, at work in his darkroom and shooting street scenes in Alexandra Township.

The video also includes an incredible montage of some of Bra Alf’s most iconic pictures spanning the last 50 years of world and South African history – a dizzying array of images that capture some of the most important moments and icons in our country, and the world’s, history. As well as striking photographs of the ordinary men and women who crossed Bra Alf’s path.

Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, Ruth First, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Father Trevor Hudddleston, Miriam Makeba, and Muhammad Ali are all featured in private and public moments, at ease in the eye of Bra Alf’s lens.

The most telling part of the music video is a picture of a young 16-year old Hugh Masekela leaping in the air, clutching the trumpet that had been sent to him by Louis Armstrong. This iconic image became the starting point of a life-long friendship between the two young men, both of whom went on to change the world in their respective ways.

The video was directed by Brett Rubin alongside cinematographer Robert Wilson, art director Nicole Van Heerden and editor Tom Glenn. The video was produced by House of Masekela in association with Vatic, and is endorsed by the family and estate of Alf Kumalo.