Sipho Hotstix Mabuse’s Selmer horn is worth a king’s ransom, and it shows in the way he holds it — as though his life completely depends on the instrument. In the four hours I spend with him at his Soweto home, he plays at whim. He’s transcribing Kenny Garret, a renowned alto technician from the venerated bebop tradition, a type of jazz originating in the 1940s and characterised by complex harmony and rhythms. Mabuse switches between alto sax and flute, sussing out more exacting pieces by English reedman and flautist Ian Anderson from British rock band Jethro Tull. "For the most part I play by ear. It’s just out of habit. Khaya is a stickler for notation and charts," he says, referring to esteemed jazz saxophonist Khaya Mahlangu. "I guess his sight-reading abilities enable him to handle a lot of exacting material." During the interview Mabuse also riffs on works by his contemporaries, getting particularly worked up about the late jazz pianist Bheki Mseleku. "He had incredibly huge e...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as articles from our international business news partners; ProfileData financial data; and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now