As the leader, tenor saxophonist, composer, and arranger of the African Jazz Pioneers, Ntemi Piliso (born: Ntemi Edmund Piliso) is one of the most influential musicians in South Africa. During the 1950s, Piliso and the African Jazz Pioneers dominated the radio airwaves of South Africa and helped to lay the foundation for the jazz-inspired mbaqanga tradition. According to www.africaonline.com, Piliso and the African Jazz Pioneers' "swinging jazz riffs and mbaqanga-style melodic lines pay homage to the rich legacy of South African jazz."
Although Piliso disbanded the African Jazz Pioneers in the 1960s, when the culturally rich village of Sophiatown was destroyed and many of South Africa's leading musicians went into exile, he formed a new version of the band when the cultural boycott was lifted in the early '80s. The group quickly resumed its status as one of South Africa's top bands. The first South African band to travel abroad, the group toured Europe, Australia and Japan.
The African Jazz Pioneers has undergone numerous personnel changes. As of 1991, the group featured tenor saxophonist Jerry Kunene, alto saxophonists Jennifer Klot and Shep Ntsamai, trumpet players Sam Tshabangu, and Stompie Manana, guitarist Nkaka Kumalo, bassist Filly Divhani, and drummer/percussionist Mpho Mathab, in addition to Pelosi.