For McCoy Mrubata,
his latest release, "Face the Music", is about acknowledging
the people who have been inspirational to him, as well as
acknowledging where the music comes from.
In early 2002, McCoy
participated in workshops arranged by the Danish Conservatory, held at
Durban's BAT Centre. This is where several ideas were sparked, and it
is where he met some of the musicians featured on "Face the
Music". Pianist, Luyanda Madope, guitarist, Tokoloho Moeketsi,
and percussionist Tlale Makhene were all participants in the same
workshops. Vusi Khumalo and McCoy were two of the instructors on
subjects like arranging and big band set up. Every student brought a
song and workshopped it with the group. The track, "Icamagu
Livumile" came out of that workshop.
The album is also
about tackling issues here at home; thanking his mentors and people
who inspired him to write music, like his last-born child, Ntuthu, for
whom "Ntuthu's Theme" is written. McCoy's band members were
happy that he finally wrote a song called "Raw Material", as
it's a phrase he uses often, to describe the music in its rough, raw,
"unpolished" form. "Venomous Toads" was another
idea sparked in Durban. At a function for prosecutors held at the
Durban Country Club, the previous Public Protector, Selby Baqwa, as
MC, made a joke about the older guys being "venomous toads",
and thanked them for their contribution. McCoy liked the idea behind
the joke and composed a song. He gave the raw material to Paul Hanmer
and Barry van Zyl and they helped with arranging the song into its
was written for Langa Township, in Cape Town, where McCoy was born.
The song is a result of vivid memories of those early years. He grew
up in the time of big bands and heard these kinds of sounds from the
time he was around 5 years old. Rehearsals used to take place opposite
his grandmother's house and he used to fall asleep listening to the
music. He also heard these sounds at ceremonies initiation. "Merton's
Place" was written for a very important figure who runs the jazz
workshop in Cape Town, Merton Barrow. McCoy learnt a lot from him, and
though he couldn't afford to study there, he studied informally for 2
months, and continued to go there for jam sessions. Merton used to run
a big band that McCoy used to be part of, and which included people
like Blackie Tempi, Thulisile Ngozi (Winston Mankunku's brother) and
Nic le Roux.
Music" is a song for South African audiences; it's a call to
really support our music. McCoy says: Some stations play our music,
while others don't, so this is a call to radio to face our music,
"we're going to be all over the place, like it or not".
"Mr. & Mrs. Adonis" is dedicated to the memory of his
late grandparents and is his attempt at demonstrating how beautiful
they were. The last section of the song came to McCoy in a dream, and
he feels that it was a gift from them. "Wanna talk about it?"
was written for victims of all kinds of abuse. McCoy' s message:
people must come forward and talk about it, or the problem will just
keep getting worse.
Music" is McCoy's 4th release on the Sheer Sound label. The first,
"Tears of Joy", was nominated for an FNB SAMA award for best
traditional jazz album, and was well received by fans, and fast became
a favourite among jazz lovers. June 1999 saw the release of McCoy's
second album on the Sheer Sound label, "Phosa Ngasemva". The
long-awaited album once again brought McCoy's own brand of big band
jazz to the fore. The album features artists such as Paul Hanmer,
Prince Lengoasa, Barry van Zyl, Andile Yenana, and Herbie Tsoaeli
along with the reed man's usual band, 'McCoy and Friends'. One of the
highlights of the album is a guest appearance by renowned vocalist
Ringo Madlingozi on two of the tracks. "Phosa Ngasemva"
speaks of the coming of age of one of the true sons of South African
jazz, a reflection of his soul in its truest form.
McCoy's last release,
"Hoelykit?" reminds you of why McCoy is such a great
saxophonist/flutist/songwriter/musician - it was nominated for the
SAMA awards in the categories of best traditional jazz album and male
artist of the year. Released in July 2000, "Hoelykit?"
includes such great musicians as Paul Hanmer, Andile Yenana, Barry Van
Zyl, Gloria Bosman (vocals on "Romeo & Alek will never rhyme"),
Herbie Tsoaeli, Dave Reynolds and Feya Faku.
McCoy Mrubata is one
of South Africa's finest saxophonists, versatile on the tenor, soprano
and alto saxophones as well as the flute, and has gained recognition
internationally as well. The Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo invited him
to perform in three musicals, two of which were based on the life of
Bob Marley. The third, "Beyond the Blues" (The John Coltrane
Story), ran for two months and saw McCoy playing the lead role. When
he's not recording, producing, and writing music for TV documentaries
or programs, he heads his own very popular band 'McCoy and Friends'.
McCoy also features
on horns as part of the super group, The Sheer All Stars, together
with Paul Hanmer, Sipho Gumede, Errol Dyers and Frank Paco, a
collaboration that resulted in two albums, "Indibano" and
"Live @ the Blues Room". Look out for the new,
soon-to-be-released Sheer All Stars album, "Dance with Me",
featuring McCoy, Louis Mhlanga, Sipho Gumede, Frank Paco and Wessel