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



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ABDULLAH IBRAHIM

Mukashi : Once upon a Time

Intuition INT 3432

 

 

  1. Mukashi

  2. Dream Time

  3. The Stars Will Remember

  4. Serenity

  5. Mississipi

  6. Peace : the ebb and flow of nature

  7. Matzikama : the place that gives water

  8. Cara Mia

  9. Root

  10. Trace Elements for Monk

  11. Krotoa : 17th-century Cape Town young Khoi Girl and her encounters with the first Settlers.

  • Crystal Clear

  • Devotion

  • Endurance

  1. In the Evening

  2. Essence

  3. The Balance

 

Abdullah Ibrahim – Piano, flute, vocals

Cleve Guyton – Flute, clarinet, sax

Eugen Bazijan – Cello

Scott Roller – Cello

 

The veteran South African-born pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim, at almost 80, shows no sign of losing his creative spark or his sensitive touch. As far as I can tell, all the music on this disc (with the exception of Cara Mia, a throw-back to the pop charts of the 1950s) was written by Ibrahim. The title track begins with a plaintive flute and a brief vocal response, lasting in all less than a minute. Dream Time is a slow, moving ballad with piano, cello and flute to the fore. The Stars Will Remember features atmospheric, pensive and quite beautiful piano from Ibrahim on this romantic theme. One of his early influences, Ellington, is noticeable here. Serenity is true to its title. Flute, cello and piano work harmoniously together, Cleave Guyton managing to sound earthy and ethereal at the same time. Mississippi proves to be an excellent vehicle for the talents of Guyton, this time on clarinet, soaring on occasions and always with a pure clear tone. Peace: the ebb and flow of nature has reflective piano, gentle flute and sonorous cello, a lovely piece. Matzikama: the place that gives water is melancholy and hymn-like. Gentle and dreamy, Ibrahim’s playing is minimalist as the flute carries the theme.

Cara Mia (yes, that one!) is given a straightforward treatment by Ibrahim but with a bluesy inflection. I was reminded of Keith Jarrett’s style on ballads. Root is, once more, piano only. This time, Ibrahim plays in a measured way yet offers more improvisation. An appealing track. Trace Elements for Monk refers to another early influence for Abdullah and has Guyton in fine funky form, as well as deft support from piano and cello (the latter providing the bass line, as elsewhere on the album). Krotoa consists of three short pieces for piano. Crystal Clear is played with feeling and the hint of a lilt. Devotion is more sombre in tone. Endurance is the shortest of the three but offers a strong finale. The three, taken together, are meant to convey a story. In the Evening has an effective ensemble sound with Guyton, smooth as ever on clarinet, and more recognisable jazz piano from Ibrahim. Essence is another solo track for piano. There is a quiet but evocative groove throughout. The Balance has a lovely melody, Cleave Guyton carrying the tune on flute and that soul-inflected piano from Abdullah Ibrahim. More up-beat than some of the other material on the album.

I really enjoyed this meditative and melodic CD. I know I’ll be coming back to it often. Recommended.

James Poore



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