This project is supported through the Confluences open call, aimed at supporting a shared space for collaboration, creation, and documentation of new work between musicians who have an existing creative relationship.
Award winning Swiss-South African jazz collective, Skyjack, will regroup in South Africa from 9-18 December 2022 in their new configuration following a Covid hibernation. The band will be performing new music in preparation for heading into studio to develop their third album.
The band comprises three members from South Africa and two from Switzerland. All critically acclaimed in their own right, Skyjack’s sum is as great as its parts. Shane Cooper (double bass), Kyle Shepherd (piano) and Jonno Sweetman (drums), are part of South Africa’s cutting-edge modern jazz scene, and Swiss musicians Marc Stucki (saxophone) and Andreas Tschopp (trombone) are two of Switzerland’s most in-demand horn players who have attained dizzying creative and professional heights over the years.
The sound of Skyjack is an absolute powerhouse, with all members bringing compositions written for the group. From deep African grooves to heavy-hitting jazz rides and beautiful soundscapes, it’s all part of the incredible journey that is Skyjack.
After their first meeting at the festivals Jazzwerkstatt Bern in Switzerland and the National Arts Festival Makhanda in 2012/13, Skyjack has toured regularly in South Africa and Europe. The band recorded their debut self-titled album in 2015 to great critical acclaim. Their 2nd release, The Hunter was released on Enja/Yellowbird in 2019.
Jonno Sweetman is regarded as one of the most original and sensitive drummers in South Africa’s music scene. Playing drums is in his blood. His father, the late Robert Sweetman, was a great drummer who played professionally in the 1960s and 1970s. In his early twenties, Jonno had the opportunity to travel and was able to take lessons from some of the best drummers in the world. Erik Smith (Norway), Jeff Ballard (USA) and Kevin Gibson (SA) were some of the highlights for him. Over the past decade, Jonno has collaborated with New York saxophonist Sam Thomas, US guitarist and celebrated exponent of the music of Thelonious Monk, Gary Wittner, as well as trumpeter Gordon Vernick (USA) and innovative saxophonist Nils Berg (Sweden). He has also performed and recorded with top South African jazz musicians such as Buddy Wells, Marcus Wyatt, Herbie Tsoaeli, Rus Nerwich, Jason Reolon, Alvin Dyers, Shannon Mowday and Feya Faku, to name a few. Jonno is currently a member of the Kyle Shepherd Trio, the Carlo Mombelli Group, the Reza Khota Quartet, the Karen Zoid Band, the Buddy Wells Quartet, and the Vuma Levin Quintet. He has performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festivals 2008 to 2018, the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival (Grahamstown), and Joy of Jazz (Johannesburg), and toured Europe with Jonathan Crossley in 2009, 2010, and 2012. With his characteristic openness to all authentic forms of music, Jonno also performs with Dan Patlansky, Gerald Clark and Albert Frost – three of South Africa’s most established blues artists. Jono is also a gifted teacher with a decade of experience teaching drums part-time. Being largely self-taught has inspired him to develop some of his own unique teaching methods. He has taught workshops at Marshall Music, Paul Bothners Music, and UCT Music College – leaving participants motivated and inspired.Kyle Shepherd is a leading South African pianists, composers, film and theatre music composer. Recognised internationally for his distinctive compositional style and performances, Kyle has released 7 jazz albums to date and a number of scores including Blood and Water Season 2 (Netflix), Savage Beauty Season 1 (Netflix), Surviving Paradise (as additional music composer (Netflix)), Indemnity, Barakat (South Africa’s official entry to the 2022 Academy Awards and winner for Best Film Score at the 2022 Silwerskerm Film Festival), The life and Times of Michael K (Handspring Puppet Company theatre production based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel by J. M Coetzee), Fiela se Kind (Silwerskerm Award for Best Film Score), Vlugtig, Noem My Skollie (South Africa’s official entry to the 2017 Academy Awards), and the chamber opera Waiting for the Sibyl, created in collaboration with world-renowned visual artist William Kentridge and co-composer Nhlanhla Mhlangu. Kyle is a frequent collaborator with Kentridge, including duet collaborations, performances, and performance lectures. In 2014, Kyle was named Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Jazz, and in 2018, he received the South African Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Award from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) for Best Music Composition for his composition Noem My Skollie. Kyle has performed all over the world. He holds a Master’s degree (Cum Laude) in Music from Stellenbosch University and is a winner of the Unisa National Piano Competition (2019). Shane Cooper is a bassist, composer, producer and educator based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2013 he was selected as a Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz. In 2014 his debut album Oscillations won the South African Music Award (SAMA) for Best Jazz Album. He regularly collaborates with MABUTA, Thandi Ntuli, Kyle Shepherd and others. In the past he has also performed and/or recorded with artists such as Guy Buttery, Zim Ngqawana, Lionel Loueke, Feya Faku, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Marcus Wyatt and many others. His work with his band MABUTA has received international critical acclaim. He has performed throughout South Africa and regularly tours the world with various projects. Shane has composed music for several award-winning documentaries and feature films. He has also worked in the theatre world, notably composing the music for Brett Bailey’s SAMSON, which won several awards for musical theatre. As an educator, Shane has taught in high schools as well as given master classes to college students throughout South Africa. His focus ranges from bass in all styles (old and new) to composition and production with software. At his core, Shane uses modern approaches to music production that are relevant to the current music industry. The main focus is on developing fundamental skills that will allow students to adapt to the music industry as it evolves with the technology on which it is based. Shane also writes and performs electronic dance music under the name Card On Spokes, which made it to #1 on Yfm and opened for international artists such as Little Dragon. Marc Stucki became interested in music while still at school. After graduating from the Gymnasium Neufeld in 1998, he enrolled in the general department of the Jazzschule Bern. This was followed by studies in music at the MHS Lucerne Faculty III with master’s degrees in pedagogy (2004) and performance (2005). After graduation he spent 3 months in New York to study with saxophonists Ellery Eskelin and Tim Berne. Marc is a laureate of the Friedl Wald Foundation’s sponsorship award, as well as a scholarship holder at the Atelier des Kantons Bern at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Since the age of 20, he has also organized concerts, such as the Jazzwerkstatt Bern and the Sonarraum U64, among others, and is also involved in the Progr cultural production centre. Concerts and tours have taken him to South Africa, USA, Finland, Great Britain, France Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Lithuania, Russia and Switzerland. Stucki teaches pedagogy and improvisation at the Hochschule der Künste in Bern.Andreas Tschopp began playing the trombone at the age of eleven. In 2003 he graduated from the Basel University of Music, Jazz Department with Adrian Mears. Andreas is on the road as a trombonist in Switzerland as well as internationally. He can be heard in a wide variety of musical constellations ranging from duos to jazz orchestras. For many of these ensembles he also contributes to the repertoire as a composer. He is a multiple award winner of various foundations, winner of the ZKB Jazz Prize with two different bands, representative of Switzerland in the European Jazz Orchestra 2008 and Artist in Residence at the Jazzclub Moods, Zurich 2014. In 2016, Pro Helvetia awarded him a three-month residency in South Africa. Andreas has played concerts on all five continents and has been on the stages of renowned festivals such as Northsea Jazzfestival, Jazzfestival Willisau, Montreux Jazzfestival, moers Festival, Jazzfest Berlin, jazznojazz Zurich, Cully Jazz, jz Festival Shanghai, National Arts Festival Grahamstown South Africa, int. Festival for Music and Dance Bangkok and many more. He can be heard as a trombonist on dozens of albums, many of which he has also contributed to as a composer. He is currently working on the second album of his band Bubaran, which mixes the sound worlds of contemporary jazz and Indonesian gamelan music, as well as the debut albums of an acoustic chamber jazz trio and an electro-acoustic sextet. Andreas currently teaches jazz trombone as a lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.