The mid-’80s was a rough time in South Africa, but there was a partying audience out there, needing to dance. Winston Nyaunda and Adam Reinecke were joined by Sipho Duma, a keyboard player steeped in the Zulu traditional Maskandi music tradition, 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 the Jive Mixup soon became known as the liveliest act around town.
The music was a true cross-over, with the band-members from diverse backgrounds collaborating to explore mbaqanga, maskandi, jive and even a bit of boeremusiek thrown in. There were legendary tours including performances at Jameson’s and 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, with Winston’s haunting saxophone solos churning the major scale in a way that would make any blues-man proud.