A Barney Rachabane discography

Note: full obituary now here: https://www.newframe.com/for-barney-rachabane-jazz-was-a-way-of-life/

Funeral: Saturday 20 November Starting at the family home 3571 Manqhokwe St Zone 3 Pimville then proceeding to West Park Cemetary. 09:30-11:30

Born in Alexandra Township,  Barney Rachabane was, by the age of seven, playing in a pennywhistle band called The Little Bunnies. (Hence the nickname “Bunny” Rachabane). By the time he was 18, though, he was respected enough to dep for Kippie Moeketsi in the Early Mabuza Quartet at the 1964 Castle Lager Jazz Festival. He later worked in Mabuza’s Big Five.


In 1968, with trumpeter Dennis Mpale and pianist Shakes Mgudlwa, he was recording with the well-respected Soul Giants

In Cape Town, he worked and recorded extensively with the Jazz Disciples led by pianist Tete Mbambisa

By the mid-70s, every jazzman was recording at least one bump jive number. This one is from his 1976 album Sweet Matara with trumpeter Stompie Manana and saxophone colleague Ezra Ngcukana.

As well as bump jive, Rachabane also recorded in the highly popular mabone (sax jive) style

Rachabane and Mpale then formed Roots in 1976, with keyboardist Jabu Nkosi and rising young bassist Sipho Gumede.


The 1980s were a tough time for live music, with state violence, restrictions and censorship. But in 1985, Rachabane led his own ensemble on Blow Barney Blow.

But the reedman’s reputation led American singer/songwriter Paul Simon to him. Recording, and then tours with the Graceland Project followed. This live performance is from Zimbabwe in 1987.

Trading fours with Hugh Masekela in New York in the late’80s in a band also including Tshepo Tshola, John Selolwane and more.

Another album as leader, Barney’s Way, followed in 1989

And in 1990, Rachabane accompanied Darius Brubeck to New Orleans in the Afro-Cool Concept: This is from their live album

A very different character was apparent on his collaborations with trumpeter Bruce Cassidy: the thoughtful, empathetic Conversations

And in 2017 he reunited with old comrade Tete Mbambisa for the new edition of Tete’s Big Sound, with UK musicians. This recording was from the Cape Town leg of the tour

10 thoughts on “A Barney Rachabane discography

  1. Yo Sis Gwen
    Banzai also played and recorded with Pacific Express when Jonathan Butler was still with them and before Jompas left our shores. Barney and Stompie Manana were the brass section after Robbie Jansen and Basil Coetzee’s tenure.


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