Abdullah Ibrahim

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Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim 06N4688.jpg
Ibrahim performing at the 2011 Moers Festival
Background information
Birth name Adolph Johannes Brand
Also known as Dollar Brand
Born (1934-10-09) 9 October 1934 (age 83)
Cape Town, South Africa
Genres South African jazz, bebop, post-bop, folk
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, bandleader
Instruments Piano, saxophone, cello
Years active 1955–present
Associated acts Sathima Bea Benjamin, Jean Grae
Website abdullahibrahim.co.za

Abdullah Ibrahim (born Adolph Johannes Brand on 9 October 1934 and formerly known as Dollar Brand) is a South African pianist and composer. His music reflects many of the musical influences of his childhood in the multicultural port areas of Cape Town, ranging from traditional African songs to the gospel of the AME Church and ragas, to more modern jazz and other Western styles. Ibrahim is considered the leading figure in the subgenre of Cape jazz. Within jazz, his music particularly reflects the influence of Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. He is known especially for "Mannenberg", a jazz piece that became a notable anti-apartheid anthem.[1]

During the apartheid era in the 1960s Ibrahim moved to New York City and, apart from a brief return to South Africa in the 1970s, remained in exile until the early '90s. Over the decades he has toured the world extensively, appearing at major venues either as a solo artist or playing with other renowned musicians, including Max Roach, Carlos Ward and Randy Weston, as well as collaborating with classical orchestras in Europe.[2] With his wife, the jazz singer Sathima Bea Benjamin, he is father to the New York underground rapper Jean Grae, as well as to a son, Tsakwe.

Biography[edit]

Ibrahim was born in Cape Town on 9 October 1934, and was baptized Adolph Johannes Brand. He attended Trafalgar High School in Cape Town's District Six, and began piano lessons at the age of seven, making his professional debut at 15.[2] He is of mixed-race heritage, making him a Coloured person according to the South African government.[3] His mother played piano in a church, the musical style of which would remain an influence; in addition, he learned to play several genres of music during his youth in Cape Town, including marabi, mbaqanga, and American jazz. He became well known in jazz circles in Cape Town and Johannesburg.[4] In 1959 and 1960, Ibrahim played with the Jazz Epistles group in Sophiatown, alongside saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa (who were all in the orchestra of the musical King Kong that opened in Johannesburg in February 1959),[5][6] bassist Johnny Gertze and drummer Makaya Ntshoko; in January 1960, the six musicians went into the Gallo studio and recorded the first full-length jazz LP by Black South African musicians, Jazz Epistle Verse One,[2][7][8] with 500 copies being produced.[9] Although the group avoided explicitly political activity, the apartheid government was suspicious of it and other jazz groups, and targeted them heavily during the increase in state repression following the Sharpeville massacre, and eventually, the Jazz Epistles broke up.[10]

Exile[edit]

Ibrahim moved to Europe in 1962. In February 1963, his wife-to-be, Sathima Bea Benjamin (they married in 1965), convinced Duke Ellington, who was in Zürich, Switzerland, on a European tour, to come to hear Ibrahim perform as "The Dollar Brand Trio" in Zurich's "Africana Club".[2] After the show, Ellington helped set up a recording session with Reprise Records: Duke Ellington presents The Dollar Brand Trio.[7] A second recording of the trio (also with Ellington and Billy Strayhorn on piano) performing with Sathima as vocalist was recorded, but remained unreleased until 1996 (A Morning in Paris, under Benjamin's name). The Dollar Brand Trio (with Johnny Gertze on bass and Makaya Ntshoko on drums) subsequently played at many European festivals, as well as on radio and television.

Ibrahim and Benjamin moved to New York in 1965[11] and that year he played at the Newport Jazz Festival, followed by a first tour through the US; in 1966 Ibrahim substituted for Duke Ellington on five dates, leading the Duke Ellington Orchestra.[12] In 1967, a Rockefeller Foundation grant enabled him to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.[2] While in the US he interacted with many progressive musicians, among them Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Cecil Taylor and Archie Shepp.[2] As the Black Power movement developed in the 1960s and 1970s, it influenced a number of Ibrahim's friends and collaborators, who began to see their music as a form of cultural nationalism. Ibrahim in turn began to incorporate African elements into his jazz.[13]

Return to South Africa[edit]

Ibrahim briefly returned to South Africa in the mid-1970s, having in 1968 converted to Islam (with the resultant change of name from Dollar Brand to Abdullah Ibrahim).[11] He met Rashid Vally at the latter's Kohinoor record shop in Johannesburg in the early 1970s,[14] and Vally produced two of Ibrahim's albums in the following years. The pair produced a third album in 1974, titled Underground in Africa, in which Ibrahim abandoned his financially unsuccessful folk-infused jazz of the previous albums. Instead, the new album was a fusion of jazz, rock music, and South Africa popular music, and sold well.[15] While recording Underground, Ibrahim collaborated with Oswietie, a local band of which Robbie Jansen and Basil Coetzee were saxophonists, and who played a large role in creating the album's fusion style. After the success of Underground, Ibrahim asked Coetzee to bring together a supporting band for his next recording: the group Coetzee put together included Jansen, as well as others who had not worked on Underground.[16] The composition "Mannenberg" was recorded in June 1974 during one of Ibrahim's visits back to South Africa, in a studio in Cape Town, and was produced by Rashid Vally.[17] The track was recorded in one take during a period of collective improvisation.[18][19] The piece was inspired by the Cape Flats township where many of those forcibly removed from District Six were sent.[20]

The recordings made with Jansen and Coetzee, including "Mannenberg" (renamed "Capetown Fringe" in its US release), "Black Lightning"; "African Herbs"; and "Soweto Is Where It Is At" – sounds that mirrored and spoke of the defiance in the streets and townships of South Africa – gave impetus to the genre of music known as "Cape Jazz."[20][21] "Mannenberg" came to be considered "the unofficial national anthem" of South Africa, and the theme tune of the anti-apartheid movement.[22][23] Saxophonist and flautist Carlos Ward was Ibrahim's sideman in duets during the early 1980s. A few months after the release of "Mannenberg", South African police fired upon protesting children during the Soweto Uprising that began on 16 June 1976; this event led Ibrahim and Benjamin to publicly express support for the African National Congress, which was still banned at the time.[24]

From 1983 Ibrahim led a group called Ekaya (which translates as "home"), as well as various trios, occasional big bands and other special projects.[25]

Since the ending of apartheid, he has lived in Cape Town, and now divides his time between his global concert circuit, New York, and South Africa.

Film work[edit]

Ibrahim has written the soundtracks for a number of films, including Chocolat (1988), and 1990's No Fear, No Die.[7]

On 25 November 1989 he made an extended appearance in the British Channel 4 television discussion series After Dark alongside Zoe Wicomb, Donald Woods, Shula Marks and others. Ibrahim also took part in the 2002 documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, where he and others recalled the days of apartheid; the film's subtitle derives from observations made by Ibrahim.[26]

Ibrahim appeared in a television documentary in Japan that aired on 26 June 2010, on NHK-BS. In the programme, he performed his compositions in several beautiful spots in South Africa, playing a piano set on the ground that resonated deeply with the natural surroundings.[citation needed]

Documentaries[edit]

Ibrahim is the subject of the documentaries A Brother with Perfect Timing (1987) and A Struggle for Love (2005, directed by Ciro Cappellari).

Post-apartheid[edit]

Ibrahim has worked as a solo performer, typically in unbroken concerts that echo the unstoppable impetus of the old marabi performers, classical impressionists and snatches of his musical idols – Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Fats Waller. He also performs frequently with trios and quartets and larger orchestral units. Since his return to South Africa in the early 1990s, he has been feted with symphony orchestra performances, one of which was in honour of Nelson Mandela's 1994 inauguration as President.[20] Mandela reportedly referred to him as "our Mozart".[27]

In 1997, Ibrahim collaborated on a tour with drummer Max Roach, and the following year undertook a world tour with the Munich Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.[28]

In 1999, he founded the "M7" academy for South African musicians in Cape Town[20] and was the initiator of the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band launched in September 2006.[11][29][30]

Ibrahim continues to perform internationally, mainly in Europe, and with occasional shows in North America. Reviewing his 2008 concert at London's Barbican Centre – a "monumental" show with the BBC Big Band, featuring vocalists Ian Shaw and Cleveland WatkissJohn Fordham of The Guardian referred to "his elder-statesman status as the African Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk combined (and his role as an educator and political campaigner)".[31]

In 2016, at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg, Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela performed together for the first time in 60 years, reuniting the Jazz Epistles in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the historic 16 June 1976 youth demonstrations.[32][33][34]

Awards[edit]

In 2007, Ibrahim was presented with the South African Music Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the Recording Industry of South Africa, in a ceremony at the Sun City Superbowl.[35][36]

In 2009, for his solo piano album Senzo he received the "Best Male Artist" award at the 15th Annual MTN South African Music Awards.[37][38]

In 2009, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate of Music.[39] Also in 2009, he was awarded South Africa's national honour the Order of Ikhamanga (Silver), "For his excellent contribution to the arts, putting South Africa on the international map and his fight against racism and apartheid."[40]

In July 2017, he was honoured with the German Jazz Trophy.[41][42]

Discography[edit]

An asterisk (*) indicates that the year is that of release.

As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1960 Jazz Epistle Verse 1 Continental As The Jazz Epistles; sextet, with Kippie Moeketsi (alto sax), Jonas Gwangwa (trombone), Hugh Masekela (trumpet), Johnny Gertze (bass), Makaya Ntshako (drums)
1960 Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz Continental Trio, with Johnny Gertze (bass), Makaya Ntshoko (drums)
1963 Duke Ellington Presents the Dollar Brand Trio Reprise Trio, with Johnny Gertze (bass), Makaya Ntshoko (drums)
1965 Reflections Black Lion Solo piano; also released as This Is Dollar Brand
1965 Round Midnight at the Montmartre Black Lion Most tracks trio, with Johnny Gertze (bass), Makaya Ntshoko (drums); two tracks solo piano
1965 The Dream Freedom Trio
1965 Anatomy of a South African Village Black Lion Trio, with Johnny Gertze (bass), Makaya Ntshoko (drums)
1965 Soweto Chiaroscuro Some tracks septet; some tracks quartet
1965* Capetown Fringe Chiaroscuro Quintet, with Basil Coetzee (tenor sax), Robbie Jansen (alto sax), Paul Michaels (bass), Monty Weber (drums)
1968 Confluence Freedom With Gato Barbieri; released 1974; also released as Hamba Khale!
1969 African Sketchbook Enja Most tracks solo piano; one track solo flute
1969 African Piano[note 1] JAPO Solo piano; in concert; released 1973
1970 African Sun Spectator
1971 Peace
1971 Dollar Brand Trio with Kippie Moketsi
1972 Ancient Africa JAPO Mostly solo piano; one part solo flute; in concert; released 1974
1973 African Portraits Sackville Solo piano
1973 Sangoma Sackville Solo piano
1973 Memories Philips Solo piano
1973 African Space Program Enja With Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax), Roland Alexander (tenor sax, harmonica), John Stubblefield (tenor sax), Sonny Fortune and Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute), Cecil Bridgewater, Enrico Rava and Charles Sullivan (trumpet), Kiani Zawadi (trombone), Cecil McBee (bass), Roy Brooks (percussion)
1973 Ode to Duke Ellington West Wind Solo piano
1973 Good News from Africa Enja Duo, with Johnny Dyani (bass, bells)
1973 Boswell Concert 1973 Colomba With Bea Benjamin
1974 African Breeze East Wind Solo piano
1974 Underground in Africa
1974 Mannenberg – "Is Where It's Happening"
1975 African Herbs
1976 Banyana – Children of Africa Enja Trio; with Cecil McBee (bass), Roy Brooks (drums); Ibrahim plays soprano sax and sings on one track
1976 Black Lightning With Basil Manenberg (tenor sax), others
1977 The Journey Chiaroscuro With Don Cherry (trumpet), Carlos Ward (alto sax), Talib Rhynie (alto sax, oboe), Hamiet Blueitt (baritone sax, clarinet), Johnny Dyani (bass), Ed Blackwell and Roy Brooks (drums), John Betsch and Claude Jones (percussion)
1977 Streams of Consciousness Duo, with Max Roach (drums)
1977 Afican Rhythm
1978 Anthem for the New Nations Denon Solo piano
1978 Duet Denon Duo, with Archie Shepp (tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax)
1978 Autobiography Plainisphare Solo piano; in concert
1978 Nisa
1979 Echoes from Africa Enja Duo, with Johnny Dyani (bass)
1979 African Marketplace Elektra With 12-piece band
1979 Africa – Tears and Laughter Enja Quartet, with Talib Qadr (alto sax, soprano sax), Greg Brown (bass), John Betsch (drums); Ibrahim is also on vocals and soprano sax
1980 Dollar Brand at Montreux Enja Quintet, with Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute), Craig Harris (trombone), Alonzo Gardener (electric bass), André Strobert (drums); in concert
1980 Matsidiso Pläne Solo piano; in concert
1980 South Africa Sunshine Pläne Solo piano; Ibrahim adds vocals on some tracks; in concert
1981 Duke's Memories Black & Blue Quartet, with Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute), Rachim Ausur Sahu (bass), Andre Strobert (drums)
1982 African Dawn Enja Solo piano
1982 Jazzbühne Berlin '82 Repertoire Solo piano; in concert
1983 Ekaya Septet, with Charles Davis (baritone sax), Ricky Ford (tenor sax), Carlos Ward (alto sax), Dick Griffin (trombone), Cecil McBee bass), Ben Riley (drums)
1983 Zimbabwe Enja Quartet, with Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute), Essiet Okun Essiet (bass), Don Mumford (drums); Ibrahim also plays soprano sax
1985 Water from an Ancient Well Tiptoe Septet, with Carlos Ward (alto sax, flute), Dick Griffin (trombone), Ricky Ford (tenor sax), Charles Davis (baritone sax), David Williams (bass), Ben Riley (drums)
1986 South Africa With Carlos Ward (alto sax), Essiet Okun Essiet (bass), Don Mumford (drums), Johnny Classens (vocals); in concert
1988 Mindif Enja Recorded for the soundtrack to the film Chocolat
1989 African River Enja With John Stubblefield (tenor sax, flute), Horace Alexander Young (alto sax, soprano sax, piccolo), Howard Johnson (tuba, baritone sax, trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Buster Williams (bass), Brian Abrahams (drums)
1990 No Fear, No Die Film soundtrack
1991 Mantra Mode Septet, with Robbie Jansen (alto sax, baritone sax, flute), Basil Coetzee (tenor sax), Johnny Mekoa (trumpet), Errol Dyers (guitar), Spencer Mbadu (bass), Monty Webber (drums)
1991 Desert Flowers Solo piano
1993 Knysna Blue Tiptoe Solo piano and other instruments
1995 Yarona Tiptoe Trio, with Marcus McLaurine (bass), George Johnson (drums)
1996 Cape Town Flowers Tiptoe Trio, with Marcus McLaurine (bass), George Gray (drums)
1997 Cape Town Revisited Tiptoe/Enja Quartet, with Feya Faku (trumpet), Marcus McLaurine (bass), George Gray (drums)
1997 African Suite With Belden Bullock (bass), George Gray (drums), strings
1998 African Symphony With orchestra
1998 Township One More Time Septet
1998 Voice of Africa
2000 Ekapa Lodumo Tiptoe With the NDR Big Band; in concert
2001 African Magic Enja Trio, with Belden Bullock (bass), Sipho Kunene (drums); in concert
2008 Senzo Sunnyside Solo piano
2008 Bombella Sunnyside With the WDR Big Band; in concert
2010 Sotho Blue Sunnyside With Jason Marshall (baritone sax), Keith Loftis (tenor sax), Cleave Guyton (alto sax, flute), Andrae Murchison (trombone), Belden Bullock (bass), George Gray (drums)
2012–13 Mukashi: Once Upon a Time Sunnyside Quartet, with Cleave Guyton (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Eugen Bazijan and Scott Roller (cello); Ibrahim is also on vocals and flute
2014 The Song Is My Story Intuition/Sunnyside Most tracks solo piano; two tracks saxophone

Compilations[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1973 African Piano Sackville Solo piano; two tracks from Sangoma; one from African Portraits; this is a different album from the 1969 recording of the same name
1973 Fats, Duke and the Monk Sackville Solo piano; one track from Sangoma; one track from African Portraits; one track previously unissued
1983–85 The Mountain Septets; complies tracks from Ekaya and Water from an Ancient Well
1988* Blues for a Hip King
1973–97 A Celebration Enja Released 2005
Re:Brahim: Abdullah Ibrahim Remixed Enja Remixes of Ibrahim performances; released 2005

As sideman[edit]

Year recorded Leader Title Label
1966 Jones, ElvinElvin Jones Midnight Walk Atlantic
1976 Benjamin, Sathima BeaSathima Bea Benjamin African Songbird
1977 Tate, BuddyBuddy Tate Buddy Tate Meets Dollar Brand Chiaroscuro

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ An album entitled African Piano was released by Sackville; it is a 1973 recording and contains two tracks from Sangoma and one from African Portraits.[43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schumann, Anne (2008). "The Beat that Beat Apartheid: The Role of Music in the Resistance against Apartheid in South Africa" (PDF). Wiener Zeitschrift für kritische Afrikastudien. 14 (8): 26–30. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Biography" Archived 10 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Abdullah Ibrahim official website.
  3. ^ Mason 2007, pp. 26–30.
  4. ^ Mason 2007, pp. 26–28.
  5. ^ "King Kong, the first All African Jazz Opera" Archived 28 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Soul Safari, 10 August 2009.
  6. ^ In the memoir King Kong - Our Knot of Time and Music: A personal memoir of South Africa’s legendary musical Archived 10 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine., by lyricist Pat Williams (London: Portobello Books, 2017), Ibrahim is quoted as saying about the show: "In spite of what everyone says, I had nothing to do with it."
  7. ^ a b c Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; and Brian Priestley (3rd edn, 2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz, London: Rough Guides Ltd, pp. 385–87. ISBN 1-84353-256-5.
  8. ^ Odidi, Billie, "The South African with a brilliant jazz touch" Archived 7 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Africa Review, 22 November 2011.
  9. ^ Mitter, Siddhartha, "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Jazz Epistles" Archived 4 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., The Village Voice, 26 April 2017.
  10. ^ Mason 2007, pp. 27–29.
  11. ^ a b c "Ibrahim returns to Joburg" Archived 14 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Johannesburg official website, 13 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Ibrahim, Abdullah (Dollar Brand) (South Africa)" Archived 15 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine., music.org.za.
  13. ^ Mason 2007, pp. 29–30.
  14. ^ Mason 2007, p. 33.
  15. ^ Mason 2007, pp. 32–35.
  16. ^ Mason 2007, pp. 34–35.
  17. ^ "Farewell to a musical legend". Sunday Tribune. 15 March 1998. 
  18. ^ Mason 2007, p. 35.
  19. ^ "UBUNTU: Mannenberg". Carnegie Hall Blog. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2017. [permanent dead link]
  20. ^ a b c d Jaggi, Maya, "The sound of freedom" Archived 27 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 8 December 2001; retrieved 13 August 2014.
  21. ^ Mason 2007, p. 25.
  22. ^ "Musical Interlude: Abdullah Ibrahim's Mannenberg (Is Where It's Happening)" Archived 2 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
  23. ^ Schiendorfer, Andreas, "Abdullah Ibrahim – Musician with Political Impact" Archived 14 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Credit Suisse, 23 February 2010.
  24. ^ Muller 2004, p. 107.
  25. ^ "Abdullah Ibrahim" Archived 20 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine., 100 Jazz profiles, BBC Radio 3.
  26. ^ Scott, A. O., "FILM REVIEW; The Sounds and Rhythms That Helped Bring Down Apartheid" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., The New York Times, 19 February 2003.
  27. ^ Scheinin, Richard, "Abdullah Ibrahim: A Life in Song" Archived 6 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., SF Jazz, 1 April 2016.
  28. ^ Harris, Craig, "Abdullah Ibrahim" Archived 19 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine., AllMusic.
  29. ^ "Launch of the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra" Archived 15 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Department of Arts and Culture, Republic of South Africa, 23 August 2006.
  30. ^ Belcher-Van der Berg, Renée, "Kaapstadse Jazzorkes skop belowend af" Archived 14 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Die Burger, 18 September 2006.
  31. ^ Fordham, John, "Abdullah Ibrahim" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 19 May 2008.
  32. ^ Podbrey, Gwen, "Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim to perform on one stage", Destinyman.com, 4 May 2016.
  33. ^ "Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya and Hugh Masekela: A Tribute to Jazz Epistles" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., News, Abdullah Ibrahim website, 13 May 2016.
  34. ^ "Hugh Masekela & Abdullah Ibrahim perform a tribute to the Jazz Epistles in JHB" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Black Major, 15 June 2016.
  35. ^ Molele, Charles, "Afro-jazz singer wins big with four awards" Archived 12 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Sunday Times, 15 April 2007. Via Press Reader.
  36. ^ Valentyn, Christo, "2007 South African Music Awards Winners" Archived 12 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Mambaonline, 16 April 2007.
  37. ^ "And the winners are…" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., The South African, 11 May 2009.
  38. ^ Coetzer, Diane, "Lira Wins Big At South African Music Awards" Archived 16 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Billboard, 5 May 2009.
  39. ^ "Wits honours Abdullah Ibrahim" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Artslink.co.za, 6 May 2009.
  40. ^ "National Orders Recipients 2009" Archived 17 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine., South African History Online.
  41. ^ "German Jazz Trophy" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., News, Abdullah Ibrahim website, 17 May 2017.
  42. ^ "Be Jazz Be open" Archived 21 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine., Outletcity Meets Jazzopen, July 2017.
  43. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Abdullah Ibrahim – Ancient Africa". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2018. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]