The name Abdullah Ibrahim is as inextricably linked with jazz history as those of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, or Don Cherry. Indeed, the pianist has collaborated closely with all of these musicians.
Born in Cape Town in 1934 as Adolphe Johannes Brand, from 1949 he gained a reputation as an exceptional musician under the name Dollar Brand. Leaving for Europe in 1962, he worked primarily in Switzerland and Denmark and was discovered by Duke Ellington in 1965, who brought him to New York.
A triumph at the Newport Jazz Festival became his ticket to the jazz major leagues. He was a member of the New York avant-garde scene, and playing with Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane he not only honed his improvisation skills but also set out on a spiritual path that he has not left to this day. He always maintained his strong musical ties with Africa but continually sought alliances in Europe and Asia, working with musicians like Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri, and the legendary South African bassist, Johnny Dyani. Converting to Islam in 1968 he took the name Abdullah Ibrahim, and became a leading figure in the integration of American jazz and African roots music.
On his new album 'Senzo', Abdullah Ibrahim is heard solo at the piano. His sound on this recording for the German radio station WDR has a staggering clarity and the series of linked intimate improvised short pieces make up a whole that is quite simply disarmingly beautiful music. The recording becomes a stream of consciousness that begins long before the first note and does not end with the last.
Abdullah Ibrahim (piano)
(4 stars) Soulful melodies and gently rolling township grooves...the sound here is of spiritual tranquillity...'For Coltrane' is a passionate highlight. -- The Times, (John Bungey), November 15, 2008
...it takes a while for the rolling thunder of those hymnbook chords to work its magic; then the genius builds.
-- The Independent on Sunday, (Phil Johnson), October 26, 2008
A masterly and extremely atmospheric performance. -- Jazzwise, (Brian Priestley), December 2008 / January 2009
Outstanding. Wonderful solo piano recording by the great South African composer...What so impresses is his storyteller's gift...excellent recording... -- The Independent on Sunday, (Phil Johnson), October 26, 2008