Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Abdullah Ibrahim Ancient Africa

Abdullah Ibrahim
Ancient Africa

Still known as Dollar Brand when Sackville released some of this on a vinyl album, "Sangoma," it was recorded during his first visit to Toronto in 1973 shortly after converting to Islam and having made a recent pilgrimage to Mecca. What fascinates about these lengthy solo piano improvisations is his jazz invention extemporizing off South African folk themes in a magical manner

The title of the vinyl album "Sangoma" means the one who beats the drum, and that meaning is consistent with the percussive aspects of Ibrahim's playing as he develops the folk themes underlying the compositions, starting with the title track, a three part suite of "The Water's Edge,""Bertha in Turquoise," and "Krotoa." Simply listening to his improvisation during this first part is mesmerizing as he develops a melodic line set against a droning rhythmic bass foundation as he chants with the music with seamless transitions to the other parts of this suite. The other two improvisations are similarly fascinating to listen to his inventiveness.

The final selection, "Khotgso" is previously unissued.  Here Ibrahim plays a bamboo flute (instead of piano) and provides a spoken recitation. It is a captivating performance that brings to a close another important Delmark reissue from the Sackville catalog.

I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is a recent performance from Abdullah Ibrahim.

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