Derek Gripper

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Derek Gripper ranks highly amongst South African music artists. He is a groundbreaking guitarist and his music draws on a wealth of original compositions, as well as transcriptions of works by Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti, kora virtuoso Toumani Diabaté, Malian guitarist Ali Farke Touré, Xhosa bow player Madosini , as well as music composed with his long-time musical partner Alex van Heerden.

To date Derek has released eight CDs, as well as a special edition vinyl record released in Germany in 2009. He has collaborated with a wide range of musicians from different musical backgrounds, from Cape Jazz trumpeter Alex van Heerden, Xhosa bow player Madosini, to classical Indian tabla player Udai Mazumdar. His compositions have appeared in film, television and radio and he has toured extensively in Europe and South Africa, performing solo and collaborative concerts in Holland, Denmark, the U.K. and Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, India, Namibia, and all over South Africa.

In 2010 Derek started New Cape Records, a music label dedicated to releasing the best of Cape music. Notable releases include Madosini, Alex van Heerden and Gramadoelas, as well as Derek’s own catalogue of compositions.

The two musician's first recording in 2002, Sagtevlei (nominated for a Geraas award for best classical album of 2002), is a lush recording for strings and trumpet which laid the groundwork for an entirely new form of Cape music, a music that the local press dubbed “avant-goema.” Here for the first time the compositional techniques of contemporary classical music were used to support the melodic and improvisational nature of Goema, the carnival music of Cape Town. For this project Derek evolved new techniques for playing bowed instruments, using the techniques of African musical bows like uhadi(gourd resonated bow) and umhrubhe (mouth bow).

Sagtevlei laid the groundwork for his first solo album, Blomdoorns (2003), a series of minimalist compositions on an experimental eight-string guitar based on the guitar played by Derek’s one-time teacher, Scottish guitarist Paul Galbraith. Here the rhythms he had heard in India combined with Cape style melodies and cyclical motives to create a simplified guitar language rooted in Cape Town's rich and diverse musical spirit.

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