Winston’s Jive Mix Up

Winston's Jive Mix-up
Winston's Jive Mix-up

Winston’s Jive Mixup was indeed a mixup. It was 1986 when Mbaqanga saxophonist Winston Nyaunda joined up with Adam Reinecke, a folky groove guitarist to form a new Jive band. Winston had learnt his trade playing penny-whistle on the streets of Joburg, later touring with the Soul Brothers and Mahlatini & the Mahotello Queens, and then went on to lead the exuberant ska/mbaqanga outfit the Dynamics.

The mid-80’s was a rough time in RSA, and there was a partying audience out there, needing to dance. Winston and Adam were joined by Hammond-Organist Sipho Duma steeped in Zulu traditional Maskande music, trombonist Jannie Hanepoot van Tonder fresh from touring with the African Jazz Pioneers, and violinist Melissa James. After various rhythm section shake-ups, ex-Dynamics drummer Steve Howells came to liven things up, and Jive Mixup soon became known as the liveliest live act around.

The music was a true cross-over “mix-up”, with the band-members from diverse backgrounds collaberating to cover Mbakanga, Maskande, Jive and even a bit of Boeremusiek thrown in. There were legendary tours including performances at Jamesons & the Pool Club in Johannesburg, Indaba & the Mix in Cape Town, the Rainbow in Pinetown and CAW outside Durban.

A gig with Jive Mixup was inevitably a 3-hour marathon with the audience trying to out-do the band, while the 3-piece trombone/sax/violin front-line showed off their semi-choreographed moves in between playing tightly arranged harmonies, and Winston’s haunting saxophone solos churning the major scale in a way that would make any blues-man proud.

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