Publishing News

Kyle Shepherd takes on Japan

May 22, 2016

| 18 May 2016 |

Jazz in Cape Town is experiencing a new wave. With the loss of two pivotal venues this year, musicians are having to fight harder to create opportunities and spaces for themselves to play in the city.

For this reason, it is remarkable news that pianist Kyle Shepherd will be touring Japan next week with bassist Shane Cooper and drummer Jonno Sweetman.

Before the trio leave, they will perform in Cape Town on Thursday at the Reeler Theatre at Rondebosch High School. The band leave next Sunday for Japan and perform at various venues until June 1.

The trio have been working together for the past six years and on stage exude a musical chemistry. They have toured South Africa and played in Canada, Switzerland, China, Mozambique and Botswana.

Shepherd said: “We have a very large repertoire which affords us a certain freedom of direction when on stage. Recently we’ve been focusing on new music I’ve written but if I’m in a different mood on stage we could draw from the repertoire found on either one of my released albums and older unreleased works.”

Over the past eight years, Shepherd has carved out his name on the South African music scene as a versatile musician. He is one of the country’s leading progressive pianists and composers.

He’s toured Japan four times as a solo artist and has performed with local musicians. This is the first time he has the opportunity to perform with his trio.

“I am very excited. Japan is one of my favourite places to tour to so I’m very happy to be taking my trio.”

During previous visits, Shepherd developed an audience in Japan which he finds “receptive, respectful, intellectual and above all ‘hearty’, which can be said of most of the audiences I’ve played to around the world including South Africa.”

Shepherd is preoccupied with a few other things: he has just wrapped up working on a soundtrack to the film Noem My Skollie written by John Fredericks and directed by Daryne Joshua.

He described this as a great learning process for him in terms of creating sound to enhance an image.

“I really enjoyed the process of composing in this way and was very happy that we recorded the majority of the score with a live orchestra at Stellenbosch University. I assembled a stellar team for the recording process with Shane Cooper (recording producer), Gerhard Roux (recording engineer) and Brandon Phillips (conductor).”

The film is scheduled for release in September.

Some advice he has for younger musicians: “I think the model for being a performing artist has changed in the last few years. If you are relying on performance exclusively as a source of income you might struggle in South Africa.”

In the light of this, Shepherd is studying for a master’s degree in music at Stellenbosch after receiving the Newton Scholarship.

He plans to move more seriously into education and focus on higher learning.