Iridescent Ibrahim Leads Multi-Horn Boon At Barbican Hall

The Barbican's foyer is still resounding to the tumultuous multi-horned attack of the Don-qui Five, part of the Nordic Jazz Comets take-over, but in the main hall an atmosphere of calm prevails. Abdullah Ibrahim’s tall, frail figure is greeted with rapturous applause as he walks onstage and sits at the piano. After a moments pause, he starts to play; a quiet, meditative solo, with hints of gospel voicings and simple, township melodies, moving imperceptibly into darker sonorities and out again. It’s like sitting in the next room, listening to the man strumming at the piano, lost in his own intimate musical reverie, and it comes almost as a surprise as the band filter quietly onstage and join in. Hesitantly at first, then with growing presence, they unite in a unison riff, building like clouds until Keyon Harrold bursts forth with a solo that’s like a dazzling ray of sunshine.

The five horns take turns in a tag-team exchange of solos, finishing in an almighty bass statement from Noah Jackson; Ibrahim barely touches the keys until the conclusion, then starts again in the intervening silence with a solemn church ballad that draws a stirring performance from trombonist Andrae Murchsion. Then come dark, cinematic chords from the horns, voiced like a miniature Gil Evans band, out of which drums and bass burst with a super-fast blazing bop tempo. Section leader Cleave Guyton steps forward with, of all things, a piccolo, and lays down a wild solo, setting the scene for Harrold to take flight over the headlong rush of the rhythm section. Ibrahim has dropped out again – as each player takes to the mic, he announces them with a single chord dropped into the racing pulse, his energy turned totally towards the band, overseeing and digging the proceedings.

Jackson ducks behind the piano then reappears, seated, his impressive form encircling a cello, and he and Guyton on flute join the leader for a chamber recital of the kind of major-key South African folk melody that Ibrahim is known for. There’s another solo piano interlude, as a limpid pool of calm, before the band swagger into a boppish mid-tempo line like something from Monk At Town Hall – as Monk was wont to do, then Ibrahim drops out altogether under much of the soloing. There’s a supremely musical drum solo from Will Terrill, and a slow Township march with Keyon Harrold tearing down the walls with his powerfully down-home solo.

Throughout not a word is spoken to the audience – Ibrahim almost seems like a spectator at his own show, watching with an approving nod of the head, quietly guiding proceedings, adding a soft piano commentary in the breaks. The quality of the musicianship is really outstanding, with superb soloing from everybody (special mentions for Lance Bryant on tenor and Marshall McDonald on bari) and the horn section breathing as one on the unison sections; but there’s still no doubt who’s boss onstage, and the closing trio recital, with Jackson back on cello shows why he was described by Mandela as ‘South Africa’s Mozart’. The crowd give a standing ovation, and then as quietly as he came, he’s gone back into the waiting darkness of the wings.

Eddie Myer
Photo by Tim Dickeson

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension …

  Kicking off this evening’s set with a high-octane crash through...

Read More.....

Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano and Lu…

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs...

Read More.....

Stanley Clarke Captivates With Crowd-Sur…

As Return to Forever bass legend Stanley Clarke (pictured above) opened...

Read More.....

Bro, Seim and Gustafsson amid the Scandi…

  As a snapshot of the great charm of Vossa Jazz's...

Read More.....

Laura Mvula, Melt Yourself Down and Alin…

  Love Supreme continue to expand the brand by bringing an...

Read More.....

Empirical get set for Distraction Tactic…

Multi-award winning London four-piece Empirical release the second part of...

Read More.....

Thrice is the charm for APA Cole Porter …

Say what you like about America (and I frequently do)...

Read More.....

Blue Note President Don Was To Receive P…

Don Was, the President of the iconic Blue Note Records...

Read More.....

Brad Mehldau finds Gabriel on Biblical n…

Revered US pianist Brad Mehldau is set to release his...

Read More.....

Tommy Smith and the SNJO dazzle with a m…

The world premiere of Norse Myths took place at Aberdeen...

Read More.....

David Sinclair 1935 – 2019

David Sinclair, one of the most insightful and affectionately-regarded photographers...

Read More.....

Kinch and Siegel lead the collective sto…

Ousted from its Colston Hall home by the builders, the...

Read More.....

Mark Nightingale's Big Band Go Large At …

  Trombonist Mark Nightingale is the most accommodating of virtuosi. He’ll...

Read More.....

Open letter leads protest at cuts to Rad…

Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and...

Read More.....

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival director’s ‘…

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden...

Read More.....

George Coleman, Jimmy Owens and Frank Lo…

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April...

Read More.....

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Makaya McCraven …

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG...

Read More.....

Turville's Quintet Dare To Dream At Brig…

This is the last show in the tour and there’s...

Read More.....

Durrant At The Double With Duo Of Improv…

Phil Durrant and Martin Vishnick (pictured) launch, Rifinitori di Momenti, their forthcoming...

Read More.....

GoGo Penguin, SEED Ensemble and Marquis …

The wider jazz programme for this year’s Love Supreme Jazz...

Read More.....

Branford Marsalis Quartet Muster Technic…

  Bookended by a short opening solo piano set from Nikki...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy announce Royal Albert Hall …

Grammy-winning powerhouse group Snarky Puppy are gearing up for a...

Read More.....

Waithe On Song At Huntley Conference

  Along with Allison & Busby and New Beacon, Bogle L’Ouverture...

Read More.....

Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Fes…

The inaugural Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Festival – a...

Read More.....

Saxophonist Seamus Blake launches new al…

Acclaimed saxophonist Seamus Blake releases his new album, Guardians of...

Read More.....

Taborn's Finessed Tapestry Of Textures F…

  The large number of musicians at this sold-out show says...

Read More.....

Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Yazz A…

The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival...

Read More.....

Irreversible Entanglements + Matana Robe…

  Matana Roberts (above) is so relaxed tonight her short opening set...

Read More.....

Jazz FM Awards nominations celebrate gia…

The names for the 2019 Jazz FM Awards were revealed...

Read More.....

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra premiere ‘Badge…

The London-based 17-piece Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are set to release...

Read More.....

NJYO, JCM, friends and family pay tribut…

As Jon Hiseman would say: “If you are going to...

Read More.....

Sons of Kemet, Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia …

The programme has been announced the inaugural We Out Here...

Read More.....

NCO hit bullseye with CTI at Ronnie Scot…

Tomorrow’s Warriors’ role as a springboard for emerging talent in...

Read More.....

Countdown To Ecstasy: Royal Academy Big …

  There are some people, who I've never understood, who smirk...

Read More.....

Melt Yourself Down, Laura Mvula and Kama…

The second edition of Love Supreme at the Roundhouse takes...

Read More.....

Michel Legrand 24/02/1932 – 26/01/2019

The prolific French film composer and pianist Michel Legrand was...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension Get Kinetic At Barbican Hall (Photo by Tatiana Gorilovsky)… https://t.co/mxDTxUGs2O
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Get down to Hundred Years Gallery on Saturday 15 June for the 10th edition of Mercury Over Maps, ft Steph Horak, Pa… https://t.co/Wm0skrVpmj
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA