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South Africa at the South Bank

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The Dedication Orchestra and Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya The South Bank Centre London Jazz Festival November 15, 2014 The London Jazz Festival is now in its twenty-second year. It's a vast, sprawling event and its venues criss-cross a city that never quite seems to end, whilst its musical styles span the globe from the USA to Australia and from South Africa to Norway. Saturday 15th November saw South Africa in two distinctly different guises at the South Bank Centre. I've been coming here since 1969 and, for me, its position on the ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Abdullah Ibrahim at Zankel Hall

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Abdullah Ibrahim Zankel Hall Ubuntu: Music And Arts Of South Africa New York, NY October 17, 2014 Ubuntu. It's one little six-letter word that carries a world of meaning within its frame. The term itself, roughly translated to mean “I am because you are," took root as a philosophy for black youth liberation in the '40s and '50s, but over time, ubuntu has taken on a life beyond a specific movement. It's a word that, while broad in scope, has clear implications tied to its use in South African history and culture: it's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Abdullah Ibrahim: Mukashi (Once upon a time)

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Japan and South Africa were never so close. The acclaimed pianist and flautist Abdullah Ibrahim fused the Asian zen calmness with stories and inspiration from his native homeland in his latest album Mukashi. Mukashi translates in Japanese as “Once upon a time" is a very appropriate title considering Ibrahim's impressive storytelling skills, as well as the visual evocations of the record. “Krotoa" is one of the most interesting tracks of the album and it is split in three. Krotoa is the name of a 17th Century Cape Town young girl from the tribe of the Khoikhoi ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Abdullah Ibrahim: African Piano

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Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett are widely thought to have represented ECM Records' initial solo piano forays with Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 & 2 (1971/1972) and Facing You (1972), respectively, but a lesser-known recording from 1969, unreleased until 1973 on ECM's sister label, JAPO, could be considered its true first. Originally released under Dollar Brand's birth surname as the South African pianist had yet to convert to Islam and become Abdullah Ibrahim, African Piano's reissue as part of ECM's Re:solutions series is now attributed to Ibrahim on the cover, though the liner notes inside remain--somewhat confusingly for those not in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: Sotho Blue

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The music of pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has lit up the world, shining brightly in the darkest recesses of the mind for decades. It has sung proud through the apartheid era, helping to clench the fist of protest tighter and the voice of human freedom sing louder. Now that the walls of segregation (at least in South Africa) have come tumbling down, Ibrahim's elementally beautiful melodies have begun to sound more tempered, his husky harmonies more bronzed, glowing with burnished colors. A master of delivering exquisite timbers and aural textures, Ibrahim has created music that has a diaphanous swagger, billowing like ...

INTERVIEWS

Abdullah Ibrahim: Perpetual Change

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For legendary pianist/composer Abdullah Ibrahim, music is always in a state of evolution. This philosophy is common to nearly all great composers, from [pianist] Duke Ellington to [trumpeter] Miles Davis and from [saxophonist] John Coltrane and [pianist] Ahmad Jamal to [guitarist] Bill Frisell. A piece of music is born, it grows and gradually matures but it never withers. And, like the Lesotho mountains, which, in part, inspired Ibrahim to revisit compositions--some of which he penned a quarter of a century ago--there is a timeless quality to Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya's Sotho Blue (Intuition, 2010). A subdued, blue ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: Sotho Blue

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The pianist's name was Dollar Brand. He came out of a nascent South African jazz scene in 1959 with The Jazz Epistles, a group that included trumpeter Hugh Masekela. Though his profile has never reached Masekela-like heights--the trumpeter's fame shot sky high with a huge number one pop chart hit in 1968, “Grazin' in the Grass"--Dollar Brand, now known as Abdullah Ibrahim, has been creating vibrant jazz infused with African folk hues and rhythms for more than a half century.On Sotho Blue, Ibrahim, with his mid-sized Ekaya ensemble, revisits a collection of his classic tunes, reinterpreting and revitalizing ...



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