Free jazz evening at Gallery University

McRoy Mrubata

Gallery University Stellenbosch (GUS) will host a free music performance by the McCoy Mrubata Quartet, on Friday October 13, at 6pm. The jazz evening is an initiative of Jazz in the Native Yards, supported by The Cape Town Music Academy.

The line-up will include McCoy Mrubata on saxophone; Blake Hellaby on keyboard; Frank Paco on drums; and Peter Ndlala on electric bass.

Born in 1959 in Cape Town’s historic Langa township, McCoy grew up with the sounds of African music, the soulful hymns of the Zion Church, the chants of traditional healers
and the brassy jive of Merry Mac’s band, who rehearsed opposite his home.

When schooling became impossible in the fiery aftermath of the 1976 student uprisings against apartheid, the young McCoy, then playing flute, studied informally under Langa greats such as Madoda Gxabeka, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, the Ngcukanas, Ezra and Duke, Blackie Tempi and Robert Sithole.

By the early 1980s he was playing in cover bands including Fever, Touch, Airborne and Vukani. From there he moved to crossover outfit Louis and the Jive.

In 1987 McCoy was spotted by band leader Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, who helped him make Jo’burg his home.

In 1988 he joined PJ Powers’ band, and in the same year was spotted by veteran producer Koloi Lebona, who offered him a recording deal with Britain-based record company Zomba Records, which had produced music for, among others, Jonathan Butler and Billy Ocean.

McCoy’s debut album Firebird was released the following year.

Jazz in the Native Yards operates from its home in Gugulethu, usually on Sundays, with satellite events in Langa, Muizenberg and Stellenbosch.

For the past three years they have hosted a range of local and international jazz legends and emerging musicians.

Gallery University Stellenbosch (GUS) is an off-campus extension of the Visual Arts Department.

In May 2017 the gallery established The Stellies Jazz Experiment – a series of music performances of South African music, exploring the possibilities of turning the white-cube into a live music hub.

For more information contact GUS curator Valeria Geselev at 071 550 1427 or