AUTHENTIC MUSIC ALWAYS RINGS TRUE FOR AFRO-SOUL JAZZ ARTIST MANDISI DYANTYIS
The only thing to come near hearing the voice and trumpet of jazz-man Mandisi Dyantyis, is the story of how he came to be heard.
Mandisi Dyantyis is a vocalist, trumpeter and musical director known for his versatility in Jazz, Western Classical and African indigenous music, as well as his ability as a raconteur.
The now Cape Town-based muso shares that he was born in PE, today renamed Gqeberha, and fondly recalls having 16 people living in his family home at one stage.
“The joy of that is that in a house like that, music and singing is natural. They were older than me so they started singing in the church choirs and playing in church bands, and they’d come back with hymn books and choral music and would then practice in the house. So my ear gravitated towards those things and I would just be mimicking and singing until people noticed that I easily got ‘these things’,” relays Mandisi.
He adds, “I would hear a song and I would sing it the next day. Or I would mimic them playing an instrument. I was then taken to the church band, and that is where the more formal music started, at seven or eight. So before I knew I was even a musician I had been a musician.”
Mandisi’s talent led to him being offered a scholarship to a model C high school with a music programme, which he says changed everything for him.
“Access [for one]. I walked into a music room that had a piano, and not one but two pianos. I could choose and then sit at a piano all day. I could rent the trumpet from the school. I had a music teacher and a signing teacher. That just confirmed what I was going to be,” says the artist.
His journey continued at UCT where he secured a scholarship to study music. From there he grew into a composer, arranger and producer and has since released his debut album ‘Somandla’ in 2019, which despite the timing with world events, was pure harmony. He quickly followed it up with Cwaka in 2021.
For an artist whose work is so involved with touch, sight and hearing, we set out for the perfect challenge to test his senses when we visited Nigiro Tea Cafe in Cape Town. Tea is after all such a popular and soothing beverage for vocalists. We had the honour of sitting with tea master Mingwei Tsai who offered our guest trio a tasting of his finest blends while providing them with a moment to sit down, slow down and savour the experience.
To a man whose happy place is the meeting of Afro, soul and jazz music, the blends made a lot of sense as did the time to reflect on the things that bring us pleasure. Lucky for us, in Mandisi’s case, making magnificent jazz is one of them.