It's mid-May. Temperatures are starting to reach pleasant heights all over Europe. Most of the blossom trees have just come out. The light pink slowly changes into yellowish white and with a breeze, the first leaves fall off their carrier, on their way to the ground, lawn, or stream. Summer is clearly just around the corner. The first outdoor festivals are over, and most bands have been warmed up again. No better time for Shane Cooper & MABUTA to release a new album: Finish The Sun (Dox Records).
The South African-born Shane Cooper is a versatile musician, it must be said. He’s not only an excellent bass player (watch for example this virtuoso solo double bass performance), but also a composer and producer, both in the electronic/dance music world and in the film and theater world. As part of the new wave of South African jazz, he tries to gain a foothold with this music style and conquer the world by storm.
He does this (in addition to other great projects like Card on Spokes) with the musicians of MABUTA, a six-piece group founded in 2018 including Bokani Dyer on piano, keyboards and synthesizer, Sisonke Xonti on tenor sax and synthesizer, Robin Fassie on trumpet and Reza Khota on guitar. Their first album Welcome To This World (2017), with beautiful contributions from British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, was already a stunner. And with this new album, they’re doing it all over again.
The first track of the new album, the title track called 'Finish The Sun', immediately starts off nice and groovy with a Kruanghbin-like electric guitar and sun-soaked rousing horns. Trumpets and saxes that easily reach the back of the festival site during live performances. Grooves and languid rhythms where you want to drink your first pint of the day lying in the sun with a smile on your face. The track kicks off an album full of wonderful percussion, smooth bass lines, and blistering brass sections.
Mali, Morocco, afrobeat, old school psychedelica, it's all there in this new Cooper & MABUTA record. More recognizable are the somewhat complex but oh-so danceable South African rhythms, which never get boring and take an interesting turn every now and then. From bombastic, to modest, to groovy, jazzy with passionate drum sections sliding into brass section violence.
The most striking tune of the album is the groovy and up-tempo song 'Kucheza', where the synthesizers almost sound like a Hammond organ, with a beautiful solo in the middle of the record. Joburg Poem is an ideal track for those who like something quieter laidback lounging. This is where the jazzy character of the band comes to the forefront in a nice way. 'Flow' and 'The Walk', on the other hand, have a little more Fela Kuti-esque excitement, both being head-nodding and leg-shaking at the same time. Throughout the whole album, Finish The Sun is glowing, sweltering, energetic but above all infectious. A real summery trip that is well worth the effort, from start to finish.
In the anecdote that goes with the title of the album, Shane Cooper explains that he was sitting outside in the sun with a cup of coffee a few years ago. The rehearsals were about to start, he had to go inside to join his fellow musicians. But Cooper preferred to wait a little longer. To catch the last rays of sun. After all, it's a shame to sit inside while the sun is still there to cheer you up. ‘I suggested we first finish the sun”’, Cooper elaborates. It became a motto, a mantra so to say: enjoy the nice moments outside, with friends. Take the time to take in things, to process memories and to remember them better. Focus on what's important, let nature help you let things slide off you. Don't let the summertime slip through your fingers, it will be over in no time. Grab it with both hands. Finish The Sun!
The core group exists of Shane Cooper, Bokani Dyer, Sisonke Xonti, and Robin
Fassie. They invited international guests on drums including Jamie Peet, Arthur
Hnatek, Christopher Cantillo, and more. For fans of Fat Freddy's Drop, Snarky
Puppy, Khruangbin and Jungle by Night.
Finish The Sun is now available for listening via Dox Records, an Amsterdam-based label that just celebrated their 25th anniversary.
Keep up with Shane Cooper & MABUTA:
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