Primary Instrument: Piano
Pianist and composer Nishlyn Ramanna first became interested in jazz on hearing an album with Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass in his last years of high school. He enrolled in a BMus course in jazz at the University of Natal, Durban, where he took piano lessons with Darius Brubeck. Ramanna became a founding member of the intercultural improvisation group Mosaic - a quintet of flute, piano, guitar, bass and tabla - which drew together aspects of mainstream jazz, African music and western classical music. Many of the pieces on 'A Thought' were originally written for Mosaic. Highlights of the band's nine-year career (1991 to 1999) included performances at various classical, folk, and jazz festivals and venues in South Africa, several appearances on national television, and at functions at which Presidents Mandela and Mbeki were present. The group also performed at the 1996 International Association of Jazz Educators' Conference in Atlanta, and at the Royal Academy in London in 1998. From 2000 to 2002, whilst holding a lectureship in jazz at Rhodes University, Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, Ramanna also taught piano and performed at the annual, week-long National Youth Jazz Festival. At the festival he worked with several great South African jazz players including Barney Rachabane and Johnny Fourie. In addition to playing, Ramanna also researches South African jazz and has written several biographies of South African jazz musicians for the Grove Dictionary of Jazz and published several academic writings on aspects of South African jazz. He recently completed his PhD thesis on contemporary jazz in post-apartheid Durban and Johannesburg.