The World Music institute will present top African world music artists in New York City as part of its Masters of African Music series.
Acclaimed Ethiopian acts Mahmoud Ahmed and Hailu Mergia are scheduled to perform on September 15, 2017 at The Town Hall. Both artists appeared in the influential Éthiopiques compilation series that highlighted the finest Ethiopian artists over the past 20 years. Recording available: Ethiopiques, Vol. 7: Ere Mela Mela.
Some still know him as Dollar Brand, others by his adopted moniker of Abdullah Ibrahim, which he began using in the late 1960s after his conversion to Islam. Either way, the piano styling of this remarkable South African musician have made their indelible mark in both the jazz and world genres for over half a century.
Ibrahim was born Adolphe Johannes Brand in Capetown in 1934, and quickly nicknamed ‘Dollar’. Learning the piano from the age of 7, he honed his early talent in the church. By the late 40?s he was already playing with local jazz big bands.
In the early 1960s alongside trumpeter Hugh Masekela, saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, he was a central figure in South Africa’s own progressive jazz movement which took its lead from the New York-based sounds being articulated at the time by John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk amongst others. His Jazz Epistles group, which included Masekela and Gwangwa, broke new musical ground, with a distinctive African influence added to the jazz improvisation.
He left South Africa in 1962 due to the worsening political situation and, in a now-legendary meeting, his new Dollar Brand Trio was ‘discovered’ by Duke Ellington while playing in Zurich, Switzerland club. Ellington quickly arranged a recording session with Reprise Records, and the Trio began playing the major American and European jazz festivals to enthusiastic acclaim. Brand/Ibrahim’s powerful tonal clusters, repeating African melodies, and creative improvisations were to become his trademarks.
He returned briefly to South Africa in the mid-70?s, but found the conditions so oppressive that he went back into exile in New York. He finally returned to live in Capetown in 1990.
His discography as both a leader and sideman lists well over a hundred album credits, including African Space Program, Ekaya, Tintinyana and Black Lightning. He composed the award-winning soundtrack for the 1988 French/African film Chocolat.