Shane Cooper should never need an introduction. Perpetually busy eloquently juggling various musical projects, he is a key proponent of the new guard of adventurous improvised music in South Africa – most notable for SKYJACK (with Kyle Shepherd and Kesivan Naidoo), his own Shane Cooper quintet, and the delicious flipside electronica of Card On Spokes. MICK RAUBENHEIMER speaks to Shane about his new band MABUTA and the exciting, anti-capitalist power of crowd funding.

South African jazz
Mabuta – cooking South African jazz

Tell us about MABUTA’s inception?

I was craving a new band and had been writing some music that I wanted an outlet for. Something to mix my influences from jazz, electronic music and world music.

Who makes up MABUTA?

Some of my favourite artists: Bokani Dyer on piano and keys, Sisonke Xonti on tenor sax, Marlon Witbooi on drums, and Robin Fassie-Kock on trumpet.

If MABUTA could be described in a single sentence?

A colourful, lucid dream filled with unusual tastes and textures.

South African jazzTell us about the crowd-funding mission?

Record labels are struggling to fund albums in the age of streaming and downloading. South Africa is in a really bad state in this regard, and almost no record labels have money to fund band albums anymore. One can produce an electronic album on a laptop, but bands still need real studios with analogue gear and engineers, and they aren’t cheap to hire. I’ve chosen to use the crowd-funding model to ask the audience to become our record label. In doing so they can pre-order albums in the form of CDs, vinyls, digital copies etc. They can also book us for home concerts as the full band or smaller versions of the band.

The name seems at once African and exotic?

MABUTA is the Japanese word for eyelid. I started thinking about the significance of the eyelid, in being the doorway between waking and sleeping, reality and dreaming.

What were the highlights of your recent Jozi launch?

The Jozi crowds were amazing for the band launch. I started the group with Joburg-based artists because the best jazz venues are in Jozi right now, so it’s great to have had such a positive response.

Who: Shane Cooper – MABUTA
Crowd funding:
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