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Cape Town Revisited by Abdullah Ibrahim

Throughout his long career in jazz, Abdullah Ibrahim has remained consistent, allowing his early experiences in the townships of South Africa to shape his music and thus establishing the readily identifiable voice for his music. Even as he has joined with other jazz musicians like Don Cherry or Cecil McBee, Ibrahim influences the sessions, taking the music in directions that wouldn’t have been explored without his participation. The cadences of South African street scenes, the joy of its carnivals, the healing nature of its music and the conflict inherent in Apartheid are components of his music, and each of his tunes usually refers to specific experiences or people from his childhood and adolescence.

Ibrahim recorded Cape Town Revisited in 1997 on the Enja labels. But now, Justin Time’s licensing agreement with Enja has allowed for the re-release of the CD, bringing attention anew to the sense of place in Ibrahim’s music, and to his unique way of painting a scene through the keys and hammers and strings of a piano. He does it again when he revisits Cape Town on this recording.... but with a difference. Ibrahim has noted the similarities between South African music and the music arising from the synthesis of cultures in early New Orleans before this reconciliation of influences (French, African, South American, Spanish, Native American and Southern U.S.) became popularized as "jazz" when the music moved up the Mississippi River. And so, segments of Cape Town Revisited, entitled "Cape Town To Congo Square," note those similarities through musical allusions: "African Street Parade" capturing a shared sense of celebration through the streets of both towns; "District Six Carnival" recalling the indomitable nature of the people’s carnivals, even after the demolition of District Six in Cape Town; and "Too-Kah" which in gospel-like chords refers to the commonality of the musical styles arising from their ancient origins in Africa.

In addition to the suite, Ibrahim’s trio, recorded live in Cape Town, covers some of his previous recorded tunes, including "Song For Sathima," dedicated to jazz vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin of Cape Town, and "Water From An Ancient Well," which likewise describes the connection of African rhythms through countless generations to the elders who found music to be a more powerful medium for communication than words as an entire musical language influencing the world’s cultures developed.

Backed by Marcus McLaurine on bass and George Gray on drums, Ibrahim plays with liveliness and a sensitive approach to touch to bring out the spirit of the South African people, their music maintaining their sense of community and humanity throughout millennia.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Abdullah Ibrahim
  • CD Title: Cape Town Revisited
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Reissue Original Release: 1997
  • Record Label: Justin Time
  • Tracks: Damara Blue, Someday Soon Sweet Samba, Cape Town To Congo Square: African Street Parade, Cape Town To Congo Square: District Six Carnival, Song For Sathima, Cape Town To Congo Square: Too-Kah, Tintinyana, Tuang Guru, Eleventh Hour, Water From An Ancient Well, Tsakwe-Royal Blue, Soweto, The Mountain, The Wedding, Barakaat (The Blessing)
  • Musicians: Abdullah Ibrahim (piano), Marcus McLaurine (bass), George Gray (drums); Feya Faku (trumpet)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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