Artists say farewell to jazz legend

Cape Town jazz giant Errol Dyers died on Friday July 21 after a lengthy battle with emphysema.

The 65-year-old guitarist from Phoenix became famous for his brand of African jazz called “Goema” and gave us hits such as Majietas, Sonesta and Sugar Shake.

He collaborated with many artists, including Steve Newman, Hilton Schilder, Paul Hanmer and McCoy Mrubata, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sipho Gumede, Frank Paco, the late Basil “Manenberg” Coetzee, Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi and Robbie Jansen.

Guitarist and singer Trudy Rushin shared a stage with Dyers many times since meeting him in 2011 and remembers his “generous-spirited” personality.

“He was very considerate. He knew how to complement what other people were doing in the band,” said Rushin.

Pianist Mervyn Africa knew Dyers since the 1970s and played the last gig with him in Pietermaritzburg last year.

“The thing about Errol, besides his playing, was that he was like an adviser. He always had a sensible solution, and the way he conducted his way of playing was very original.”

Several musicians will meet at the Kaleidoscope Cafe in Claremont today to pay tribute to Dyers’ life.

A stream of tributes has followed news of his death.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said Dyers had kept alive the rich musical heritage of District Six residents.

“He kept alive the roots of their being, the vibrant hopes and dreams that sustained them and the sense of cultural belonging which nurtured them. His music was part of a tradition of resistance and the shaping of a culture of freedom. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Dyers family.”

The City of Cape Town called Dyers’s death a “huge loss” for Cape Town jazz.

“Dyers was indeed a guitar maestro, who brought a unique Cape Town sound to jazz music, with this distinct talent earning him the status of being one of the country’s most renowned musicians.

“His songs Dindela and Sugar Shake, like many others, will forever be remembered as legendary contributions by Dyers, one of the pioneers of Cape jazz,” the City said in a statement.