Pursuing his love for music inherited from his classically trained pianist grandmother at an early age, at her insistence Dan formally studied drums and classical percussion and learnt how to read music. He received his first taste of performing in front of an audience at the age of fifteen in his tutor and mentor, Australian Jim Bailey’s big band Cannon (in the Chase, Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago jazz-rock style). By now the rhythm bug had bitten and he went on to join popular Durban percussion group Interitmo.
He developed his technique further when he joined pianist Joe Delew’s Brazilian Jazz Project. The group supported Brazilian Airto Moreira and Flora Purim on their South African tour, an experience which created a deep impression on Dan’s approach to music. MELT 2000’s Robert Trunz subsequently invited Dan to interview Airto for the SABC Jazz Series.
Dan has recorded and performed with diverse musicians from all over the world such as Black Coffee, Jovanotti (Italy), Ray Phiri and The African Gypsies, Phil Manzanera (UK), N’Faly Kouyate (Guinea), Cyril Neville (USA), Cisco Bellotti (Italy), Modena City Ramblers (Italy), Roger Lucey, Brian Finch & Ken E Henson, Gito Baloi, Neill Solomon and The Uptown Rhythm Dogs, Juan de Marcos (Cuba), Steve Fataar, Colin Offord (Australia), Vusi Mahlasela, Syd Kitchen, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Simba Morri (Kenya), Sergio Dias (Brazil), Piet Botha and James Phillips (aka Bernoldus Niemand) amongst many others. He has also shared stages with the likes of Airto Moreira, Ginger Baker, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joe Cocker and Janis Ian.
Exploring his beloved Latin and Brazilian themes, Dan wrote, directed and performed in three successful musical revues (Sounds of Brazil, Latin Heat and Island Rhythms) with the Joe Delew Brazilian Project at The Durban Playhouse. Following on from these successes, he co-founded the 16-piece Los Cucarachos, an exciting Latin showband in the Mambo Kings and Tito Puente tradition which became popular with Latin ballroom dancing aficionados.
The trio of Neill Solomon and The Uptown Rhythm Dogs became one of the first South African bands to incorporate world music influences into the mainstream and played extensively around South Africa. Dan produced Neill’s debut solo album ‘Gathering of the Beasts‘, based around an environmental and conservation theme. The pair co-produced two CD’s for The Sharks rugby team, including the anthemic stadium song ‘We are Black, We are White‘. For the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the duo co-produced Durban’s official World Cup song ‘Smile‘ which featured a multi-cultural cast of some of Durban’s finest musicians, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Madala Kunene and the late Syd Kitchen.
In 2002, Dan collaborated with Brazilian rock guitarist Sergio Dias from the legendary group Os Mutantes on ‘Song of the Leopard‘, one of the first albums ever to fuse South African and Brazilian music styles. The album was launched at the Guinness Jazz Festival in Johannesburg and the Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro. Dan co-founded The African Gypsies with the late Ray Phiri. The group (which included Gito Baloi & Concord Nkabinde) performed on the WOMAD Festival circuit with Phil Manzanera as a special guest. Ray and Dan went on to set up the Ray Phiri Arts Institute, a non-profit trust designed to help young musicians in the Mpumalanga area.
In 2011, at the invitation of legendary explorer and adventurer Kingsley Holgate, Dan conceptualised and produced the musical concept and concert finale of the Boundless Southern Africa environmental and conservation expedition. The music incorporated indigenous styles from the seven conservation areas and countries on South Africa’s borders. Dan’s involvement in this event provided the catalyst for his passionate support of wildlife and conservation projects.
In something completely different, in 2013 Dan was invited by composer and band-leader Brendan Jury to perform on DJ Black Coffee’s multi-dimensional extravaganza ‘Live from Moses Mabhida Stadium‘. The concert was filmed for a DVD and shown on national TV and included The Soul Brothers’ Black Moses Ngwenya and a classical orchestra.
Post COVID, Dan conceptualised and co-produced (with John Lindemann) the seminal album collaboration between The African Jazz Pioneers and The Mahotella Queens entitled “Hello Hello” which is available on all digital platforms. He followed this up with SISONKE BAFO, a re-imagined album and documentary which pays tribute to a cassette which was released in the mid 1980’s entitled The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, Volume One. Everyone involved in this project were directly influenced by the unique sound and historical importance of this cassette which served as a major influence in Paul Simon’s Graceland album.
On the film front, Dan has contributed percussion and rhythm tracks to “Chasing the Sun” the acclaimed documentary which depicts the story of The Springboks World Cup triumph in 2019.
In 2022, Dan conceptualised, co-produced and performed on Kindred Spirits ”A Navajo & South African story” a groundbreaking album collaboration featuring D’DAT, a Navajo jazz/funk group from New Mexico and a diverse mixture of South African rappers and singers. This project culminated in performances at WOMAD 2022.
All Time Greats: Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Fela Kuti, Joni Mitchell & James Brown.
Percussionists: Airto Moreira, Armando Peraza, Karl Perrazo, Miguel “Anga” Diaz & Giovanni Hidalgo.
Drummers: Sly Dunbar, Buddy Rich, Paul Motian, Clyde Stubblefield & Zigaboo Modaliste.
Producers: Ahmet Ertegun, Quincy Jones, Daniel Lanois, George Martin & Jerry Wexler.
Guitarists: Mike Bloomfield, Paco de Lucia, Leo Nocentelli, Wilko Johnson, Phil Manzanera & Sonny Landreth.
Bass Players: Ron Carter, Bootsy Collins, George Porter & Robbie Shakespeare.
Keyboard Players: Garth Hudson, Herbie Hancock, Monty Alexander, Joe Zawinul & Black Moses Ngwenya.
Groups: Irakere, Buena Vista Social Club, Traffic, The Band, Weather Report & Little Feat.
Horn Players: Paquito d’Rivera, Roland Kirk, Miles Davis & Arturo Sandoval.
Composers: Ennio Morricone & Juan de Marcos Gonzales.
Female Vocalists: Aretha Franklin, Emmylou Harris, Sister Rosetta Tharpe & Celia Cruz.
Male Vocalists: James Brown, Joe Cocker, Salif Keita, Johnny Cash, Peter Gabriel, Otis Redding & Van Morrison.
Songwriters: Steve Earle, Joni Mitchell, Robbie Robertson, Ian Anderson & Lennon-McCartney.
Favourite Film / Series: Cinema Paradiso, Catedral del Mar & Peaky Blinders.
In the Business World
Running concurrently with his musical journey, Dan enjoyed a successful sales & marketing career in the corporate world. This environment helped him gain experience of working to deadlines, and managing and motivating a large work force.
As a Sportsman
An avid sportsman as a youngster, Dan represented Natal Schools at football and went on to play for Durban Celtic, Umbilo FC and Durban United. He also played rugby for Glenwood High School and was chosen for Durban & Districts in cricket and athletics.
Dan is married to banker Samantha Pollecutt, youngest daughter of the late composer and guitarist Dave “King of the Jingle” Pollecutt, best known for his work on African Footprint, Shaka Zulu and Carte Blanche.