299

Abdullah Ibrahim: Senzo

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Abdullah Ibrahim: Senzo Any record by Abdullah Ibrahim is always an event to look forward to, often with bated breath as he always turns in something quite breathtaking. Ibrahim has done this with Good News from Africa (Enja, 1973), Water from an Ancient Well (Ekapa/Tiptoe, 1985), the exquisite orchestral work African Suite (Ekapa/Tiptoe, 1998), and several others. The thrilling Senzo can be added to that list.

This is a major solo piano suite, comprising 21 individually composed segments, plus a version of Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood" that is reverently reworked and almost completely unrecognizable, were it not for the fact that the title appears on the sleeve. Senzo is a sweeping opus of epic proportions that meanders elegantly through great swaths of time—ancient and modern—and finally returns to the continually evolving roots of jazz. The appropriate imagery here is that of the "Ocean & The River," both song and leit motif for the track's beginning and end; although the concept of Alpha and Omega begins to describe it infinitely more precisely.

Throughout the expression of the music's ideas and idiom—and topographical landscape—Ibrahim conducts himself with regal loneliness. There is a sudden feeling that no longer does he belong to jazz, or the African Diaspora, but to the whole of the human race. His voice becomes highly individual, and it begins to speak for artist and audience alike, just as Ellington's once did when he composed his own opuses—Black, Brown and Beige (Columbia, 1944) and The Drum Is a Woman (Columbia, 1956). Thus, it is no longer possible to credit technique or virtuosity in his playing; the music takes over the senses in waves of pure sound.

The suite mixes short segments, like "Blues for Bea," with slightly longer sketches, such as "In the Evening," a meditation that appears to flow like wet paint spreading gently through a still life portrait. There are longer segments that pay tribute to some of the milestones along the walk of life—"Blues for a Hip King" (dedicated to the late King of Swaziland in southern Africa) and "For Coltrane," a deep meditation that appears to commune with the spirit world in the wake of the saxophonist. The sublime title segment, "Senzo - Contours and Time," conjures up the great spirit of the ancestors, and an Ellingtonian séance takes the form of an utterly beguiling version of "In a Sentimental Mood."

Senzo is a monumental defining work in Ibrahim's long and illustrious career. It begs or provokes a somewhat frightening thought: does the artist consider this to be a spectacular pinnacle from which the eye and the mind can perceive nothingness? Or will the artist's mind turn inward to search the soul once more for a new sound that will send the spirit soaring? Audiences throughout the world will wait once more with bated breath.

Track Listing: Dust; Corridors Radiant; Jabulani; Dust (Reprise); 'Senzo' - Contours and Time; Meditation / Mummy; Banyana, Children Of Africa; Mamma; Blue Bolero; In a Sentimental Mood; Ocean & The River; Ocean & The River (2); In the Evening; Blues For Bea; Prelude 'For Coltrane'; Aspen; Blues for a Hip King; Third Line Samba; Tookah; Pula; For Coltrane.

Personnel: Abdullah Ibrahim: piano.

Title: Senzo | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Silhouettes" CD/LP/Track Review Silhouettes
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "Scott Hamilton / Harry Allen: live!" CD/LP/Track Review Scott Hamilton / Harry Allen: live!
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Developing Story" CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Recent Developments" CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Towards Language" CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.