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Abdullah Ibrahim: African Magic

Jim Santella By

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Germany’s Jazz Across The Border Festival had been exploring the effect world cultures have on jazz for more than a decade. That idea remains a topic near and dear to our hearts. In his suite-like concert of impressions, Abdullah Ibrahim infuses South American samba, European bolero and habanera, Asian folk melodies, South African anthems, and Duke Ellington jazz. His trio sparkles with the knowledge that art can pay homage to memorable history and myriad geography, with politics taking a seat at the back of the bus.

Ibrahim’s swinging, percussive style gets down to the core of the matter. Spare in density, his compositions rely on essential impressions to belie meaning. He feels no need to supply more notes than necessary. Seamless, with each composition merging into the next, the pianist and his rhythm mates draw a consistent line of soul-stirring jazz. His original “Eleventh Hour” offers a quiet embrace in which to quell one’s fears. “Blue Bolero,” whose threads interweave and unify the concert, moves solemnly through a desolate landscape, where faces are long and eyes stare blankly.

“Moten Swing” introduces a quirky homage to John Coltrane, where the unexpected is expected. Other originals honor Ibrahim’s countrymen and their varied cultural differences. Much of the session takes on an emotional Gospel appeal. Recommended, African Magic does wonders for the listener’s heart and soul.


Track Listing: Blue Bolero (fragment 1); Third Line Samba; Blue Bolero (Fragment 2); Blues For A Hip King; District Six; Tuang Guru; Blue Bolero (Fragment 3); Joan

Personnel: Abdullah Ibrahim

Title: African Magic | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Enja Records

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