'Sotho Blue' sees the legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim assemble a new version of his popular seven piece group, Ekaya.
Formed in 1983, Ekaya (which means homeland), saw Ibrahim gather together a largely American group to perform a unique and entrancing mix of jazz and traditional South African folk music. The spirit of the original group now lives on in 'Sotho Blue', where Ibrahim is joined by six outstanding young musicians to play a programme of (mostly) original compositions from Ekaya's past. Also included, perhaps in a nod to some formative musical influences, is an inspired arrangement of pianist Bud Powell's classically inspired "Glass Enclosure".
Joining the leader on piano are alto saxophonist/flautist Cleave Guyton, tenor saxophonist Keith Loftis, baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall, trombonist Andrae Murchinson, bassist Belden Bullock, and drummer George Gray.
(4 stars) A newfound sprightliness...the musicians of Ekaya are on superb form...this rhythm section is one of Ibrahim's very finest. -- Jazzwise, (Marcus O'Dair), November 2010