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Ibrahim, Abdullah (Dollar Brand) (South Africa)  
Abdullah Ibrahim - © S.Gordon 1995

ABDULLAH Ibrahim, born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1934, remembers hearing traditional African songs, religious music and jazz as a child - all of which are reflected in his music. He received his first piano lessons in 1941 and became a professional musician in 1949 (Tuxedo Slickers, Willie Max Big Band). In 1959 he met alto saxophone player Kippi Moeketsi who convinced him to devote his life to music. He meets and soon marries South African jazz vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin in 1965.

In 1962 the Dollar Brand Trio (with Johnny Gertze on bass, Makaya Ntshoko on drums) tours Europe. Duke Ellington listens in at Zürich's Africana Club and sets up a recording session for Reprise Records: Duke Ellington presents the Dollar Brand Trio. 1963/64 sees the trio at major European festivals, including TV shows and radio performances.

In 1965 Dollar Brand plays the Newport Jazz Festival followed by a first tour through the United States. In 1966 he leads the Duke Ellington Orchestra: "I did five dates substituting for him. It was exciting but very scary, I could hardly play". Other than six months playing with the Elvin Jones Quartet Abdullah Ibrahim (who changed his name after his conversion to Islam in the late 1960s) has been a band leader ever since. 1968 sees a solo piano tour. From then on he has continuously playing concerts and clubs throughout the US, Europe and Japan with appearances at the major music festivals of the world (e.g. Montreux, North Sea, Berlin, Paris, Montreal, etc.). A world traveler since 1962, Ibrahim went back to South Africa in the mid-1970s but found conditions so oppressive that he went back to New York in 1976.

In 1988 Ibrahim wrote the award-winning sound track for the film Chocolat which was followed by further endeavors in film music the latest being the sound track to No Fear, No Die.

arranger, bandleader, orchestra, piano
Genre: African Jazz, jazz, klopse / goema
An eloquent spokesman and deeply religious, Abdullah Ibrahim's beliefs and experiences are reflected in his music. "The recent changes in South Africa are of course very welcome, it has been so long in coming. We would like a total dismantling of apartheid and the adoption of a democratic non-racist society; it seems to be on the way." In 1990, Ibrahim returned to South Africa to live there but keeps up his New York residence as well. Several tours took him around the globe featuring his groups and also doing much acclaimed solo piano recitals. 1997 saw the beginning of a duet cooperation with the dean of jazz drums, Max Roach.

Later projects (1997 and 1998) are of a large scale nature: Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder arranged Abdullah Ibrahim's compositions for a 22 piece string orchestra (members of the Youth Orchestra of the European Community) for a CD recording and a Swiss Television SF-DRS production and also for the full size Munich Radio Philharmonic Orchestra again for CD production and for concert performances featuring the Abdullah Ibrahim Trio.

Abdullah Ibrahim, Switzerland 1988 - © S.Gordon
The world premiere of the symphonic piece was at the renowned Herkules Saal, in Munich, Germany on January 18th 1998, under the direction of Barbara Yahr and the Zürcher Kammerorchester premiered the string orchestra version at Zurich's Tonhalle in February 1998.

The string orchestra version was released in September 1998 ("African Suite") and met widest critical acclaim from the worlds of both jazz and classical music. The symphonic version ("African Symphony") will be released in 2001 in a double CD set which also features Abdullah Ibrahim with the NDR Jazz Big Band giving the full scope of his large format music.

Another highlight was the premiere of Cape Town Traveler, a multi-media production at the Leipzig music festival in 1999. A one hour performance featured A.I. & the Ekaya Sextet, a vocal group, filmmaterial from the early days in South Africa and the European years, electronic sounds ranging from impressionism to drum&bass - a great experience.

The newest album is "Cape Town Revisited" , recorded live in Cape Town. The piano of A.I. is featured with Marcus McLaurine (b) and George Gray (dr) and added is the fiery trumpet of South African Feya Faku on several tracks. A great honor has been bestowed on Abdullah Ibrahim when the renowned Gresham College in London invited him to give several lectures and concerts (beginning in October 2000 at Canary Wharf). Among his predecessors at the famed institution which looks back at a history of 500 years are John Cage, Luciano Berio, Xenakis.

Contact Details:

visit Abdullah Ebrahim's Official Website
The site contains very comprehensive information including discography and current touring itineraries. Highly recommended.
  Recordings : Ibrahim, Abdullah(Dollar Brand)
Echoes From Africa

Echoes From Africa
African River

African River
African Suite

African Suite

click here for more about these and other recordings by : Ibrahim, Abdullah

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