Still known as Dollar Brand at the time of this recording, Abdullah Ibrahim had his first encounter with a large ensemble on African Space Program, and the results are quite successful. Despite a muddy sound quality, this is music built on infectious themes and played with verve by a fine cast of instrumentalists. The first part of "Tintiyana," entirely written, is redolent of Ellington and Mingus, all churning low tones and percussion. When the second portion begins, the mood turns celebratory with a striding, gospel-imbued theme supporting heroic solos from all involved. Several of the musicians on hand were generally involved with the avant-garde end of the jazz spectrum at the time, and their playing is full of bite and a risk-taking nature that greatly enlivens the proceedings.
This is one of Abdullah Ibrahim's most colorful band recordings. With a 12-piece group that includes altoist Carlos Ward, trombonist Craig Harris and bassist Cecil McBee along with some lesser-known names, Ibrahim performs eight folklike originals that pay tribute to his life growing up in South Africa. "The Homecoming Song," "Anthem for the New Nation" and especially "The Wedding" (a beautiful hymn) are particularly memorable.
Reissue with the latest DSD remastering. Dollar Brand playing solo – but with a vibrancy that hardly makes you miss the other instruments at all! Most of the record features solo piano, but there's also a bit of bamboo flute as well – leading off the set and establishing this great organic vibe to the whole thing, which is then followed by Brand's long-spun, completely hypnotic lines on piano! The recording quality is wonderful – very clear and strong, and quite resonant too – and the set features two side-long long suites – "Africa" and "Reflection" – with shorter passages that move through the warm range of moods you'd find in Brand's other strong work from the time. Titles include "Ancient Africa", "Msunduza", "Single Petal Of A Rose", and "African Sun".
A somewhat surprising pairing at the time, the former firebrand of the tenor sax and the wonderful South African pianist found a pleasant and relaxed meeting point. By 1978, Shepp had largely abandoned the ferocious attack that gained him renown in the '60s, settling on a rich, Ben Webster-ish tone and playing a repertoire consisting of modern standards and bluesy originals.
In the mid-1960's, Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand) was an avant-garde pianist influenced by Thelonious Monk who was not yet displaying much of his South African heritage in his music...