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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Fats, Duke & The Monk




1. Salaam Peace

2. Fats, Duke and The Monk

3. African Portraits

Abdullah Ibrahim (solo piano)

rec. at Thunder Sound Studios, Toronto, Canada on February 18, 1973


Track 1: previously unissued, track 2: issued on LP 3006 and track 3: issued on LP 3009

Adolph Johannes Brand, previously known as Dollar Brand and for many years, since his conversion to Islam, as Abdullah Ibrahim, is one of the jazz world’s many piano greats and this disc shows that to perfection. Always a groundbreaker he was on the first ever recording made by black South African jazzmen in 1959 alongside Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela with The Jazz Epistles in Sophiatown. With a discography of almost 50 records as leader his playing career spans more than 50 years. He has always cited Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington as his creative influences but has sought and succeeded in giving his jazz a distinctly South African sound. This has resulted in some of the most personal musical statements in jazz since the path finding music of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. In this compilation of solo discs, one previously unissued, we get a real insight into all those elements.

Each of the three tracks is for want of a better description a medley of tunes and in Salaam Peace we have a specifically South African flavoured set which includes a number of traditional South African tunes. The disc’s title track Fats, Duke and The Monk is a tribute to his musical heroes and is made up of The Duke’s Single Petal of a Rose, Fats Waller’s Ode to Duke and Honeysuckle Rose and Monk’s Think of One plus two originals Monk from Harlem and Mumsy Weh. The third track African Portraits incorporates Kippie Moeketsi’s Blues for Hughie along with six originals.

The best way to enjoy the disc is not to try and identify the specific elements but to allow his magic to wash over you and you will be richly rewarded. This is the first of two volumes of his piano music and on the strength of this first one I can’t wait for the second to appear. Ibrahim’s unique voice is a joy from start to finish and the discernibly and distinctive South African voice within the music makes for a truly illuminating experience.

Steve Arloff

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