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Shepherd, a Cape Town native who will turn 26 this summer, plays piano with old-soul authority and composes rich, evocative music. He’s very much grounded in the myriad and compelling sounds of his homeland, but there’s a personal stamp on his art and an awareness of jazz beyond South Africa to it too. The latter adds dimension but never overtakes the music’s beautiful and powerful sense of rootedness.”  Peter Hum, International Jazz blogger, Jazzblog.ca 

“This is improvisation as a search for freedom, “freedom from”, yes, but also “freedom to”, a key to unlock the doors of music making in the future”. Miles Keylock, Editor-in-Chief, Rolling Stone South Africa

Kyle Shepherd, one of South Africa’s leading progressive Jazz pianists and composers of his generation, is steadily gaining international recognition for his distinctive compositional style and performances.

The multi South African Music Awards (SAMA) nominated virtuoso pianist and winner of the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz, already has a well-established record of celebrated solo, trio and quartet performances in South Africa, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands and China.

WATCH THE LATEST  KYLE SHEPHERD VIDEO INTERVIEW / FEATURE HERE

In celebration of the 5-year Anniversary of his Trio, Shepherd will launch his highly anticipated new 21-track Double Album, entitled ‘Dream State’ with a concert at the Wits 969 Festival in The Wits Great Hall, Wits University, Johannesburg on Saturday, 26 July 2014. In his foreword to the album, renowned arts journalist, Percy Mabandu says: “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’. ”

All three of the twenty-seven-year-old virtuoso pianist’s earlier critically-acclaimed album releases, ‘fineART’, ‘A Portrait of Home’ and ‘South African History! X’, have garned South African Music Award nominations.

His debut solo piano album, recorded in Japan, is set for release later this year.

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.

As a pianist, Xaru player (traditional mouth-bow) and composer, Shepherd has forged a unique compositional and performance concept that pays homage to all his musical influences and the many great musicians he has worked with, all while continuing to look forward musically in a way, which, in the words of the great South African Jazz writer and historian, Gwen Ansell,live in the jazz world but are never imprisoned by it”.

In 2013, Shepherd performed his special music project, Xamissa, Place of Sweet Waters, to critical acclaim at the Festival d’Automne à Paris (Paris Autumn Festival). Xamissa, which was commissioned by the festival, is a large-scale compositional work which, Shepherd says, “brings together the sounds and cultures of Cape Town by incorporating the Xhosa, Afrikaans and English languages – with the use of voices, piano, the Xaru, the ghoema drums and tenor saxophone.”

Shepherd’s track, Bobbejaan / Minstrels Go to Court, off his ‘South African History !X  Album,  is featured in  the award-winning South African film Four Corners, which received the ‘Best Film’ Award in the feature film category at the 2014 Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF), Canada. It was also the official South African submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014!

Shepherd regularly performs in concert as a solo pianist, while also leading his Trio with Shane Cooper (double bass) and Jonno Sweetman (drums) and his Quartet featuring Claude Cozens (drums), Benjamin Jephta (bass) and top South African – tenor saxophonist – Buddy Wells.

Apart from South Africa, Shepherd has also performed in Japan,  Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, France, Denmark, India, Malaysia, China, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana  and Zimbabwe, with notable concert appearances, either as a solo pianist or trio, quartet and other formats at 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), 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),

Some of the great musicians Shepherd has performed with in his illustrious career include the Late Zim Ngqawana, Louis Moholo-Moholo, the Late Robbie Jansen, Carlo Mombelli, Errol Dyers, Hilton Schilder, Mark Fransman and Ayanda Sikade, all from South Africa, as well as Saadet Türköz (Switzerland), Marc Stucki (Switzerland), Seigo Matsunaga (Japan), Sebastiaan Kaptein (Holland) and Ole Hamre (Norway).

Shepherd featured in the AWARD WINNING theatre production, ‘AFRIKAAPS’ for which he directed & co-wrote the music, and also performed in.

Film documentaries that feature his music are: ‘AFRIKAAPS’ by Dylan Valley, ‘The Uprising of Hangberg’ by Dylan Valley & world-renowned film maker Aryan Kaganof. Shepherd was also commissioned to compose a new work for the music production ‘Die Buitestaanders’ by Mareli Stolp & Magdalene Minnaar.

Album & Concert Review Highlights:

In his Foreword to Shepherd’s Debut Album “fineART”, internationally acclaimed South African music legend, the late Zim Ngqawana had the following to say about Shepherd’s music:

Authenticity is another word for originality and this is clearly evident in Kyle’s compositions, arrangements and improvisation. He has managed to find a balance between the intellect and intuition. Kyle is a meditator and a poet.”

Shepherd, a Cape Town native who will turn 26 this summer, plays piano with old-soul authority and composes rich, evocative music. He’s very much grounded in the myriad and compelling sounds of his homeland, but there’s a personal stamp on his art and an awareness of jazz beyond South Africa to it too. The latter adds dimension but never overtakes the music’s beautiful and powerful sense of rootedness.”  Peter Hum, International Jazz blogger, Jazzblog.ca

As a composer and arranger Shepherd is proving to be one of the chief architects of modern Cape jazz.” Andre Manuel, The Cape Times

“This is improvisation as a search for freedom, “freedom from”, yes, but also “freedom to”, a key to unlock the doors of music making in the future”. Miles Keylock, Editor-in-Chief, Rolling Stone South Africa

In his review of the Trio album, “A Portrait of Home”, international music critic, Marcus O’Dair | The Arts Desk UK, commends the work of the Trio. “A Portrait Of Home sees Shepherd, together with Shane Cooper on double bass and drummer Jonno Sweetman, creating music of subtle yet tremendous power. Though the technique of all three is undeniable, this is no antiseptic chopsfest: it is music of genuine passion, meditative and stately but always emotionally engaged. It has groove at its very core, with hummable, stripped back melodies on top – and not just in the “head” sections that traditionally top and tail jazz arrangements.”

I believe that on fineART, Shepherd carries the torch for this style of music.” Don Albert (Financial Mail)

(His compositions) unashamedly display his cultural music traditions, drawing on the unique rhythms, harmonies, and melodic devices of what Kyle calls “music from home”. Carol Martin (SAJE – South African Association for Jazz Education).

It’s this ‘Proudly South African’ tradition that audiences can expect to hear” … “which sees the multi-instrumentalist navigate an impressionistic collage of South African jazz sounds, from slam poetic minimalist re-imaginings of Afrikaans volksliedjies and Muslim calls to prayer, to goema groove deconstructions, tributes to Abdullah Ibrahim, Ngqawana’s philosophy of “Zimology” and more that, as the doyen of South African jazz scribes Gwen Ansell pointed out in Business Day recently: “live in the jazz world but are never imprisoned by it”. Miles Keylock (Mail & Guardian)

Shepherd’s jagged edges and questioning dissonances sound far more like Ibrahim at the start of his career than his magisterial solemnity. The young player’s plaintive little minor-key segues into fragments of musical fragments represent a sonic collage of his city, much as pianist Robert Glasper’s sounds (also heard this year in Cape Town) collage the jazz history and hip-hop present of New York. ” Gwen Ansell (Business Day / The Weekender)

Shepherd is an outstanding pianist …. His ability to craft extensive melodic passages and tangents takes one on a musical journey.” Keenan Oakes (Artspoken, Artslink)