Kyle Shepherd

Musician, poet, creative artist

Jazz pianist Kyle Shepherd's mother once worked for iconic jazzman and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, so perhaps it's not surprising that he eventually chose the piano after a long flirtation with the violin. The composer and arranger, born in Cape Town in 1987, was initially drawn to the violin and classical music before switching to the piano and jazz as a teenager. "I was attracted to the instrument [piano] because of its improvisational possibilities. I needed more from music.� Shepherd has two albums, fineART (2009) and A Portrait of Home (2010), both nominated for Samas, and another album scheduled for release in the next few months, on which he features the late jazzman and pedagogue Zim Ngqawana. When Shepherd's debut album came out Ngqawana said the young musician had "managed to find a balance between the intellect and intuition. Kyle is a meditator and a poet.� Indeed, what Shepherd is doing is something of a balancing act; he talks about the influence of Cape Town in his music and how his ear is always tuned to the music of this country and from all of this he is trying to create something new � an idiom that at once connects and distinguishes him from some of his favourite musicians, who include pianists Jason Moran, Cecil Taylor and Keith Jarrett and horn superstars John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Besides Ngqawana, he has also performed with saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, pianist Hilton Schilder and others and has toured the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, France, Denmark, Malaysia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe. His music has been used in two films, Afrikaaps by Dylan Valley and The Uprising of Hangberg, a film by Valley and Aryan Kaganof. � Percy Zvomuya