McCoy Mrubata


McCoy Mrubata is an artist from South Africa.
Saxophonist, flute player, band leader and composer
Born in 1959 in Cape Town’s historic Langa township, South Africa. Reedman McCoy Mrubata grew up with the sounds of African music: the soulful hymns of the Zion Church, the chants and rhythms of traditional healers and the brassy jive of the Merry Macs band who rehearsed opposite his home. When schooling became impossible in the fiery aftermath of the 1976 uprising, the young McCoy then playing flute studied informally under Langa and Gugulethu township greats like Madoda Gxabeka, Winston Ngozi , the Ngcukanas, Ezra and Duke, Blackie Tempi and Robert Sithole.
By the early 1980s he was playing in cover bands like Fever, Touch , Airborne and Vukani, from there he moved to crossover outfit Louis and the Jive. In 1987 McCoy was spotted by bandleader Sipho Hotstix Mabuse who helped him make Joburg his home. In 1988 he joined PJ Powers band and also that year McCoy was sported by veteran producer Koloi Lebona who offered him a recording deal with a British based record company Zomba Records the same record company had produced music for, amongst others: Jonathan Butler and Billy Ocean. McCoy’s debut album, Firebird was released the following year.
In 1989 he formed Brotherhood, which also included guitarist Jimmy Dludlu pianist Nhlanhla Magagula, Mwezi Zazi, Gladwin Mashoko and Lucas Khumalo and later Moses Molelekwa and Phakamisa Xangathi. In 1990 the band won the Gilbey's Music for Africa competition , beating top bands like Bayethe , Peto , Stax and Zanusi.
In 1992 he began touring with Hugh Masekela’s Lerapo, alongside Vusi and Bakithi Khumalo , Lawrence Matshiza and the late Moses Molelekwa among others. He also created his own bands, Cape to Cairo and McCoy and Friends. In the mid 1990s, he made the first of a series of albums as leader for the independent Sheer Sound label: Tears of Joy. The personnel of Friends, including pianist Paul Hanmer, bassist Andre Abrahamse , trumpet player Prince Lengoasa and trombonist Jabu Magubane among others.
In addition, McCoy has collaborated with a dazzling array of South African jazz players, and with overseas artists such as Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. He has been involved in drama, creating scores for South African productions about journalist Bloke Modisane and saxophone legend Kippie Moeketsi . McCoy also worked In three Norwegian productions (with Nordic Black Theatre) : two In 1994/5 In SA and In Oslo on two Bob Marley Musicals and in 2001 starring in play based on the life of John Coltrane “Beyond The Blues” , playing a leading role. He has also created what he calls the Young Friends: a collaboration with the next generation of South African jazzmen.
In 2012 McCoy was among the top Jazz educators who helped to launch the Jazz Faculty at University Of South Africa and has subsequently conducted workshops and master classes commissioned by the Institution.

ZAEkurhuleni, South Africa
In operation since: 

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