“I don’t live in 8 hours. I got rid of the 8-hour mentality long ago. My friends have come to accept that this is how I live my life”, this is what pianist, composer, lecturer and producer Sibusiso Mashiloane told Marabi Jazz Lounge from his lecture room at University of KwaZulu -Natal (UKZN).

Those that grew up with him are probably surprised that he is a pianist.  He started by playing drums at church but is trained as a pianist.  He is affectionately known as Mash which is shortened from his surname.  Amanz’Olwandle, an album he recorded last year won him the contemporary and best jazz album at this year’s Mzantsi Jazz Awards.

In the album, he worked with Dalisu Ndlazi on bass, Greg Bedford, Nick Pitman and Bethuel Tshoane on guitars, Riley Giandhari and Sphelelo Mazibuko on drums, and Linda Sikhakhane on saxophone.  On vocals, the album features Zoetheseed, Xolisa Roro Dlamini, Paras, Nomthandazo Madlala and Menzi Maseko on the spoken word.

“When people recognize your craft, it’s an honour”, he says.  Mash acknowledges that financing an album is always a challenge.  But the most challenging part was to get the concept across.  He believes that jazz has a way of doing things.  A jazz musician can take an R&B song and make a jazz version of it.

Besides being a dedicated husband to Pheladi and father to son Hubo, Mash is also a very religious and spiritual person.  He can’t live without going to church.  Mash told Marabi Jazz Lounge that, “Church is my rock.  That is where I am building my house”.  Spare time is something he doesn’t need.  He hates idling.

Mash holds a Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance from UKZN where he obtained a distinction, and is studying towards a PhD which is about South African Jazz Music.  “This is more of exploring South Africa.  I want my students to appreciate South African teaching of jazz”, he says.  He has observed that his students are more receptive of South African jazz as a way of teaching.

When Tete Mbambisa visited the music department at UKZN last year, students could not recognize him.  He wants South African students to refrain from using American music as a point of reference.  In that way, music students will be to recognize their icons.

In August last year, the highly energetic Sibusiso Mashiloane had a gig at The Chairman, a popular jazz club in Durban.  Immediately after that performance, him and his fellow musicians drove to Johannesburg where they recorded a 14-track album entitled Rotha, which was a follow up to Amanz’Olwandle.  Immediately after finishing the recording, he received a call that his mother passed away.  In her honour and memory, he released the album in August this year.

He is currently doing a lot of travelling to promote Rotha which is a brilliant album.  Mash is accompanied by drummer Riley Giandhari and bassist Dalisu Ndlazi. The trio has been in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and have also added to Mozambique to their list.

As an artist, he has worked with Thandiswa Mazwai, Siphokazi, Mbuso Khoza, Anthonio Lyons, Lucas Senyatso, Musa Manzini, Tlale Makhene, Ronny Jordan and Zakes Bantwini during live performances.  It was a trip with Bantwini that saw him performing live at Jazz Essence Festival in the USA.

When asked what is the difference between studio recording and live performance, Mashiloane said, “Energy is the determining factor. Interaction with the audience is very important”.  In the studio, musicians don’t get to make what they want, the way they want it.  He told Marabi Jazz Lounge that the studio recording may not be as original. “Musicians do different takes before the final product which is not the same with a live performance”, he added.

Mash is confident that jazz in South Africa has taken a completely different turn.  “South African musicians are so international”, looking extremely proud.  He says young musicians write their own music.  There is a huge interest in local artists by international artists.  He also encourages his students to appreciate their own music and perform it with distinction.

Sibusiso Mashiloane is very active on social media and can be reached on his Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram.

Facebook Page: Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane

Twitter: @sibu_mash

Instagram: @sibumash