Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya
@ the Royal Festival Hall
14 November 2017
Click an image to enlarge.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1934, Abdullah Ibrahim was instinctively
influenced by songs of Africa, Jazz and religious teachings. He
received piano lessons from the age of seven, converting from amateur
to professional musician around the age of fifteen, becoming a member
of The Tuxedo Slickers Willie Max Big Band. Ibrahim met South African
jazz vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin through music, they married in1965.
Duke Ellington was so impressed by the later formed Dollar Band
Trio (which included Abdullah Ibrahim on piano, Johnny Gertze on
bass and Makaya Ntshoko on drums), after listening to them at the
Africana Club in Zürich. He arranged a recording session for
the band with Reprise Records. Appearances at major festivals, television
and radio shows were to follow.
In 1966 Ibrahim led the Duke Ellington Orchestra touring the United
States. He recalls;
“I did five dates substituting for him. It was exciting
but very scary, I could hardly play”.
Abdullah Ibrahim, (who had changed his name after converting to
Islam in the late 1960’s) by now had found his true vocation
as a ‘band leader’. He continued playing at concerts
and clubs throughout the United States, Montreux, North Sea and
other major festivals.
After extensive travel and exploration, Ibrahim returned to South
Africa in the mid 1970’s, but found the political climate
unbearably ‘oppressive’, so felt forced to return to
Ibrahim wrote the soundtrack for the film ‘ Chocalat’
in 1988, which not only won critical acclaim, but also an award.
This was the start of a fruitful journey in film music, the most
recent being the soundtrack to “No Fear, No Die”. He
continues to be a ‘musically expressive’ deeply religious
individual with many successful projects under his belt. Touring
and recording extensively over many years, Ibrahim has recorded
a wealth of material for Enja Records and he appears not to be slowing
in pace as his recognition and admiration continues to grow.