the late Basil ‘Mannenberg’ Coetzee, whose musicianship stems from the streets and has stretched to the jazz halls of Europe, stated emphatically that his musical guru is Dollar Brand, and that him and his music is just an extension of the man who influenced him strongly through his musical growth. . He earned the nickname “Mannenberg” after the hugely succesful collaboration with Dollar Brand in the late seventies. Basil toured and recorded extensively with Brand (Abdullah Ebrahim)
Dollar Brand took him to Europe and they blew up a storm in the halls of Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, making people rave to the strains of Mannenberg. Basil is very much a musician of the people. At the age of 13, he took to the streets with his penny-whistle to earn some money. He switched to the concert flute three years later. The penny-whistle and concert flute were steps up his musical ladder to the saxophone which he took up when he was 21. He never had any music lessons, picking up the sound with his finely tuned ear.
SAbENZA was actually a project of former Pacific Express members lead by Basil. Sabenza –derived from ‘SA Band” and the Zulu word for work ‘sebenza’, was the work of Basil, Robbie Jansen, Paul Abrahams and Jack Momple who had all left American influenced jazz in search of their Cape roots. The record came out originally on Mountain Records, here is a later version on Kijima. Great Cape Jazz… ‘Sabenza’ has all original compositions, and its genesis was the unrest period of 1985. He terms his music ‘people’s music’. Basil Coetzee is noted as being in the ranks of the top saxophonist in South Africa, and like his musical mentor, Dollar Brand, his horn blowing is leaving indelible marks in our musical history books.*
here’s a rare original from 1976, a composition by Coetzee. He plays the penny whistle on both sides
and another early composition by Coetzee, probably mid-60’s. Sung by vocal group The Four Yanks
*from the original liner notes of ‘SAbENZA’ Basil ‘Mannenberg’ Coetzee, Kijima Records 1988
order ‘SAbENZA’ on Mountain Records here