African Jazz Pioneers

An ensemble of jazz musicians formed around saxophonist Edmund ‘Ntemi’ Piliso which he formed in 1981 to revive the big African jazz sound of his early 1950s Bra Ntemi and his Alexandra All Star Band.

The 1981 line-up included Ntemi Philiso, Wilson Silgee, Kippie Moeketsi, Timothy Ndaba, Shep Ntsamai and Stompie Manana.

They performed in and around the Johannesburg area (but also further afield such as Botswana in 1986) throughout the 1980s and were invited to perform at the Culture in Another South Africa festival in Amsterdam in 1987.

The line-up changed regularly according to who was available and who wanted to stay with the band at any particular time but Ntemi Philiso was a constant until his death in December 2000. After which the band continued to perform and record.

Their first fully fledged album was African Jazz Pioneers released in 1989, followed by Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival (1991), Sip ‘n’ Fly (1993), Shufflin’ Joe (1996), Afrika Vukani (1999) and 76 3rd Avenue (2004).

Basil Coetzee

Cape-Town based tenor saxophonist who was born and grew up in District Six.

Performed and recorded with several top South African jazz musicians including Dollar Brand, Kippie Moeketsi, Pat Matshikiza, Lionel Beukes and Errol Dyers.

His most famous collaborations were with Dollar Brand, including his iconic saxophone contribution to ‘Mannenberg – Is Where It’s Happening” which led to his nickname, Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee.

In 1978 he released the album Shrimp Boats, in collaboration with Barney Rachabane (alto saxophone), Charles Johnstone (bass), Sipho Gumede (bass), Gilbert Mathews (drums), Rod Clarke (drums, percussion) and Lionel Pillay (keyboards, piano).

In the mid-1970s to early 1980s period he was a member of Black Disco, Pacific Express and Movement In The City. In the mid-1980s he formed the group Sabenza with whom he recorded the album Sabenza (1987).

He also performed the saxophone solo on Bright’s Blue’s “Weeping (1987).

He released two subsequent solo albums, Monwabisi (1991) and B (1998).

He died in Mitchell’s Plain in March 1998.