Johnny Dyani

Johnny Dyani
Birth name Johnny Mbizo Dyani
Born (1945-11-30)November 30, 1945
Origin East London, South Africa
Died October 24, 1986(1986-10-24) (aged 40)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Bassist
Instruments Double bass
Years active c.1960-1986
Labels Ogun, SteepleChase
Associated acts The Blue Notes, Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, David Murray, Leo Smith

Johnny Mbizo Dyani (30 November 1945 24 October 1986) was a South African jazz double bassist and pianist, who played with such musicians as Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, David Murray, Finnish guitar player Jukka Syrenius and Leo Smith.


Dyani was born and grew up in Duncan Village, a township of the South African city of East London.

In the early 1960s, he was a member of South Africa's first integrated jazz band, The Blue Notes, with Mongezi Feza on trumpet, Dudu Pukwana on alto saxophone, Nikele Moyake on tenor saxophone, Chris McGregor on piano, and Louis Moholo on drums. In 1964, the band fled South Africa to seek musical and political freedom. Moholo explained, "We were rebels and we were trying to run away from this apartheid thing. We rebelled against the apartheid regime that whites and blacks couldn't play together. We stood up."[1]

In 1966, Dyani toured Argentina with Steve Lacy's quartet. Lacy, Dyani and Moholo recorded The Forest and the Zoo.

In 1971 Dyani formed his own group Earthquake Power, and in 1972 co-founded Xaba with Mongezi Feza and Okay Temiz.[2]

Performing widely throughout Europe, Dyani moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1970s, and about ten years later to Sweden, recording many albums under his own name. He recorded with Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim), Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, David Murray, Joseph Jarman, Clifford Jarvis, Don Moye, Han Bennink, Brotherhood of Breath, Mal Waldron, Pierre Dørge and many others.

Dyani died suddenly in 1986 after a performance in West Berlin.[2]


After his death, the remaining members of The Blue Notes reunited to record a moving tribute album, entitled Blue Notes for Johnny. Other musical tributes include:

In a memorial published in the South African magazine Rixaka, Pallo Jordan wrote of Dyani: "Above all, his music resounded with a joy in life."[3]



  1. Eyles, John. "Louis Moholo: The Sound of Freedom". All About Jazz. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  2. 1 2 Francesco Martinelli, Johnny Dyani biography at AllMusic.
  3. Jordan, Pallo (1988). "Johnny Dyani: a Portrait". Rixaka. 1988 (Number 4): 4–8. Retrieved 6 September 2016.

External links

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