Abdullah Ibrahim, then known as Dollar Brand, went into the studio with Max Roach on September 20, 1977. In his brief but all-encompassing notes, Roach says that there were no rehearsals and no plans as to what they were going to record. Sure, it is said that they were friends, and shared social and cultural backgrounds. Those are good points of reference but there has to be something more: a perspicacity, a feel, anticipation and vision that have to course through the blood and in the mind. Roach and Ibrahim are in the swell of the tide. Now that this recording is available once more, listen to two articulate imaginaries as they take you on their completely improvised journey, savor the experience and acknowledge, as well, the good sense that activated the re-release of the music.
The sum of the four tunes, witness the names given them, make up the breathtaking whole. The title tune runs just over 21 minutes, every one of which is a dynamic of exploration. Ibrahim sets up the mood in a virtuosic panoply of rich euphonic piano chording that Roach reinvents with a shifting timbral pulse. And then eloquence converges, the piano setting mood and pace and melody, the drums singing in tandem with the chromatic swells or chugging along and accenting rhythms that extend the constantly changing motifs. The flavor of “Inception” is subtle. Ibrahim probes and instils the spaces with a gradually evolving melodic thread. A jubilant, gospel air stirs “Acclamation” before it moves into the wont of Ibrahim, the happy land of an African melody, as spellbinding as it can be as he shapes varied patterns from the nucleus. If ever there was consanguinity between two musicians, this is proof positive.