Abdullah Ibrahim

Latest Release

Abdullah Ibrahim - Solotude

Abdullah Ibrahim, 3
Out January 26, 2024 via Gearbox Records

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Abdullah Ibrahim - Thumbnail - Photo credit Dr. Marina Umari

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Photo Credit: Dr. Marina Umari


Abdullah Ibrahim
“Water from an Ancient Well”


Abdullah Ibrahim
NPR – Tiny Desk (Home) Concert


Press Results  |  See All

Slate Podcast Highlights Abdullah Ibrahim

Culture Gabfest Read More at Slate

NPR Interview Spotlights Abdullah Ibrahim

On his latest album, Abdullah Ibrahim hears the world in many "different colors""In today's session, we have a very special guest: one of jazz's...

Jazz Weekly Highlights Abdullah Ibrahim

Ringer of the Week: Abdullah Ibrahim, 3"Ibrahim mixes up the group dynamics with some solos, duets and mostly trios."  |  Read More at Jazz Weekly

Bandcamp Spotlights Abdullah Ibrahim

The Best Jazz on Bandcamp, February 2024"A melody from the piano of Abdullah Ibrahim is like a sound carried in by a soft breeze."  |  Read More at...

The Arts Fuse Album Review: 3

Jazz Album Review: Abdullah Ibrahim’s 3 – Meditations on a Legacy"In 1960, when 25-year-old pianist Adolph Brand made his recording debut in...

Offbeat Reviews Abdullah Ibrahim’s 3

Abdullah Ibrahim: 3 (Gearbox Records)"At 89-years-old, the legendary South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has released a double album of live...

Last Day Leaf Highlights Abdullah Ibrahim

Listening Now : Abdullah Ibrahim – Water from an Ancient Well – Single Edit"Born in Cape Town, his music fuses African, American jazz, and classical...

Wall Street Journal Album Review: Abdullah Ibrahim

3 by Abdullah Ibrahim Review: Lyrical Jazz in London"The South African pianist’s mesmerizing new album comprises two sets recorded at Barbican Hall...

Tidal Features Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim Finds Truth in Improvisation"With a new album out and a 90th birthday on the horizon, the illustrious South African jazz pianist...

All Music Adds Abdullah Ibrahim’s 3

Album Review: 3"South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim has been a prominent figure on the international jazz scene since 1963." ...

Jazztrail Reviews Abdullah Ibrahim’s 3

Album Review: Abdullah Ibrahim, 3"Nothing really burns intensely on Ibrahim’s latest release but the music, possessing healing powers, maintains its...

Making a Scene Spotlights Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim, 3"It’s a pensive, meditative, spiritual kind of listening, that, like the concert, demands concentrated listening."  |  Read More...

Press Releases  |  See All

Legendary Composer and Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s New Album 3 Out Today via Gearbox Records

Ibrahim Confirms NYC Concerts at Harlem Stage Gatehouse April 26-27 with Jason MoranLegendary South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim...

Legendary Composer and Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim Announces New Album 3 + Shares “Mindif”

Out January 26 via Gearbox Records“South Africa’s Mozart.” --Nelson Mandela “The sound and spirit of Abdullah Ibrahim are potent as ever” --The Wire...

On Heels of NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, Abdullah Ibrahim Plans Blue Note Concerts Aug. 23-28, Confirms Appearance at Detroit Jazz Festival Sept. 2-3 with His Band Ekaya

New Album Solotude Earning Considerable AcclaimPiano master and NEA Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim will perform concerts August 23-28 at the Blue Note...

NPR Shares Piano Master Abdullah Ibrahim’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

New Album Solotude Earning Considerable AcclaimNPR Music has shared piano master Abdullah Ibrahim’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. To accompany the...

Gearbox Records Confirms Abdullah Ibrahim Solotude, Out November 26 via Digital & January 14 on Vinyl/CD

NEA Jazz Master & "Master Composer" (NPR Fresh Air) Abdullah Ibrahim Confirms Solo Album “A master of understatement and balance… Levitating.”--New...



Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim is South Africa’s most distinguished pianist and a world-respected master musician. Born in 1934 in Cape Town, Dollar Brand, as he became known, was exposed to a melting pot of cultural influences: African Khoi-san songs, Christian hymns, gospel tunes and spirituals, as well as American jazz, township jive, and classical music. Out of this blend of the secular and religious, and the traditional and the modern, Abdullah Ibrahim’s distinctive sound and musical vocabulary was born.

Abdullah’s reputation first developed in local Cape Town groups such as the Tuxedo Slickers, as well as his own Dollar Brand Trio in 1958. His groundbreaking septet the Jazz Epistles, formed in 1959, and including the likes of trumpeter Hugh Masakela and trombonist Jonas Gwanga, recorded the first jazz album by South African musicians, Jazz Epistle, Verse 1. Due to the increasingly strict apartheid laws and increased government harassment towards musicians, as well as the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, Dollar Brand left the country with his partner Sathima Bea Benjamin and moved to Switzerland. There, he encountered Duke Ellington, which led to the seminal 1964 recording Duke Ellington presents the Dollar Brand Trio.

Abdullah Ibrahim’s later move to New York in 1965 further cemented his career as a leading musician; in those years he interacted with progressive jazz musicians such as Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane, and performed with Elvin Jones and the Ellington Orchestra amongst others. In subsequent years, he would return to Cape Town in search of spiritual harmony, and would record Mannenberg – Is Where It’s Happening, which became an unofficial national anthem for black South Africa. The late-1970s meant a return to the US, which saw Ibrahim involved in a range of artistic projects: Garth Fagan’s ballet Prelude
(first performed 1981), Kalahari Liberation Opera (Vienna, 1982), and the musical Cape Town, South Africa in 1983 with the septet he formed that year, Ekaya.

In 1990 Mandela, freed from prison, invited him to come home to South Africa. The fraught emotions of reacclimatising there are reflected in Mantra Modes (1991), the first recording with South African musicians since 1976, and in Knysna Blue (1993). Ibrahim memorably performed at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994, where Mandela dubbed him “our Mozart.”

Recently, Abdullah was named a Jazz Master as part of the 2019 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), alongside Maria Schneider and Stanley Crouch. Previous recipients of this award include Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Herbie Hancock. In the same year, he also presented a new small-band album, The Balance with Ekaya, which reached #3 in the US Billboard jazz charts, as well as a solo album Dream Time, which was recorded in the historic concert hall of the 500 year- old Hirzinger hotel in Aschau, Germany. An appearance on the BBC’s television show Later… with Jools Holland and a truly memorable performance at the Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto in Japan cemented 2019 as a stand-out year for Abdullah.

With the turn of the decade, Abdullah continues to tour the world a solo pianist and with Ekaya, and remains at his zenith as a musician and as a tireless initiator of new projects.

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