Legendary South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim returns with the news of a new album titled “3” – which is due out 26th January via Gearbox Records. To mark the announcement, Ibrahim has shared a new recording of “Mindif”.

The new album announcement comes on the heels of the Octogenarian’s birthday concerts at Hirzinger Hall, which took place on 14th and 15th October. The concerts, which take place in the East of Germany, are by now a tradition. The grand hall is famous for its incredible acoustics, and a solo piano performance by the NEA jazz master one of its annual highlights. It was also the location in which his critically acclaimed album “Solotude” was recorded during in lockdown.

Taken from his recent sold-out headline date at London’s Barbican Centre, the new album “3” follows suit and is spread across two performances – the first is recorded without an audience recorded ahead of the concert straight to analogue on a 1” Scully tape machine, which had previously been used by Elvis at the famous Memphis-based Sun Studios.

The second recording is taken from the evening’s performance itself with Ibrahim performing in a unique trio which includes Cleave Guyton (flute, piccolo, saxophone) who has performed alongside the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, and Joe Henderson, as well as lauded bassist and cellist Noah Jackson, both of which are members of Ekaya and featured on Ibrahim’s top 3 Billboard Jazz album “The Balance”.

The recordings feature a number of special new tracks and moving arrangements influenced by the music of Ibrahim’s upbringing (gospel and jive, American jazz and classical music, sacred and secular), and arrangements of tracks by his friends and heroes such as Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, all interwoven by his fluidic and ebullient playing style. The recording also features spellbinding vocal performances from Ibrahim creating a powerful, pin-drop moment with heartbreaking songs about the pain of slavery sung in both an indigenous language and English. The whole thing is accentuated by the lack of percussion which highlights both the more poignant moments as well as the more energetic moments.

The first track to be lifted from the record titled “Mindif” is taken from the live recording, closing out the evening’s performance with a masterful balance of intimacy, catharsis, and introspection, as Guyton and Jackson ebb and flow around Ibrahim’s passionate playing. The track’s runtime clocks in at seven-minutes but the final three are entirely the rapturous applause of the audience – a fitting end to such a performance.

Hear and share Abdullah Ibrahim‘s ‘MINDIF’ HERE

Abdullah Ibrahim (who has also recorded as Dollar Brand) is one of South Africa’s most famous musicians. Born under the apartheid regime, where jazz music was seen as an act of resistance, his music is often referred to as representing freedom. His major anti-apartheid anthem “Mannenberg” (released as “Capetown Fringe” in the US) has come to be regarded as an unofficial national anthem in South Africa, and he even performed at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, where Mandela referred to him as “our Mozart”. He’s played with everyone from Duke Ellington to Max Roach, John Coltrane to Ornette Coleman, and is the father of underground rapper Jean Grae.

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Abdullah Ibrahim was also recently awarded “The Order of the Rising Sun” by Japan’s government – one of the country’s top honours. Abdullah was one of several foreign recipients of the 2020 Spring Imperial awards conferred by His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan. The award was being given to Abdullah in recognition of his lifetime achievement in emancipating the people of South Africa and the world through his music, as well as his contribution to Japan-South African friendship through his works, performances and profound understanding of Japanese culture and spirituality.

This is something that is exemplified perfectly in Ibrahim’s ongoing project at his 800-hectare farm in the Green Kalahari. The project engages the local community and neighbouring Botswana and Namibia, focussing on music, movement, medicine, meditation and Satoyama-biodiversity – the Japanese cosmology of conservation and creating a harmonious co-existence between humans and nature.

Recently speaking to Arts24, Ibrahim says, “The idea is that we incorporate all of this. I call it Satoyama Africa which is this biodiversity with music, astrophysics, and farm produce. For young people, the idea is to come there and engage in this. And for young musicians for example, composing in this dynamic. We have the ancient earth, and we have our sights beyond the milky way.”

The project continues to grow as Abdullah Ibrahim performs around the world. Following the forthcoming Hirzinger Hall performances, and ahead of his new album, he will play the below dates. Tickets and more information HERE.

07 Dec 2023 – MC2 – Grenoble, France
14 Dec 2023 – le Domained’O – Montpellier, France
15 Dec 2023 – Opéra de Bordeaux – Bordeaux, France

“3” is out 26th January via Gearbox Records – pre-order HERE

Jazz Listings from Grapevine Magazine