Johnny Dyani

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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.

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

In the early 1960s, Dyani 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.

He moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in the early 70's, 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.

After his death in 1986 (West-Berlin), 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: "Above all, his music resounded with a joy in life."[2]


  • 1964: The Blue Notes Legacy – Live in South Africa 1964 (Ogun, released in 1995)
  • 1967: Steve LacyThe Forest and the Zoo (ESP)
  • 1971: Don Cherry - Orient (BYG)
  • 1976: Johnny Dyani with Chris JorisSongs For Mbizo (released VKH Tonesetters, 1991 [incl. Dyani's voice] and Jazz Halo/Omnitone, 2002)[3]
  • 1978: Johnny Dyani with John Tchicai & Dudu PukwanaWitchdoctor's Son (SteepleChase)
  • 1978: Johnny Dyani Quartet – Song for Biko (SteepleChase)
  • 1978: Johnny Dyani & David MurrayLet the Music Take You (Marge)
  • 1979: Abdullah Ibrahim/Johnny Dyani – Echoes From Africa (Enja)
  • 1981: Johnny Dyani & Mal Waldron Duo Live at Jazz Unité – Some Jive Ass Boer (Jazz Unité)
  • 1984: Pierre Dørge & New Jungle OrchestraBrikama (SteepleChase)
  • 1984: Percussion Summit (Moers Music)
  • 1984: Johnny Dyani – Afrika (SteepleChase)
  • 1985: Pierre Dørge & New Jungle Orchestra – Even the Moon Is Dancing (SteepleChase)
  • 1986: Johnny Dyani Quartet – Angolian Cry (SteepleChase)
  • 1987: Johnny Dyani – Witchdoctor's Son - Together (Cadillac Music & Publishing)


  1. ^ Eyles, John. "Louis Moholo: The Sound of Freedom". All About Jazz. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  2. ^ As PDF file on Akwaabasound. Unavailable on 3. December 2012
  3. ^ *Astarita, Glenn (2002-09-19). "Chris Joris: Songs For Mbizo (2002)". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
       *"Chris Joris - Songs For Mbizo CD". CD Universe (CD seller). Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
       *"Chris Joris - Songs for Mbizo - CD album 1991" (in Dutch). Muziek Archief (Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen vzw). Retrieved 2013-08-08. 

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