SA Jazz Icon Abdullah Ibrahim Confirms Concert Dates For Gauteng And Cape Town

Abdullah Ibrahim – one of South Africa’s greatest jazz icons – has announced concert dates for Gauteng and Cape Town. 

Ibrahim returns home to South Africa after a five-year absence to give a series of landmark concerts in April 2024. The limited events will include a highlight in Cape Town where he first professionally performed aged just 16 at the iconic City Hall.

“To be launching my M7 Foundation in Johannesburg, playing concerts in Pretoria’s new state-of-the-art arena and uniquely returning to performing inside City Hall – an illustrious venue I first played at aged 16 for a segregated audience – is something that at one time was unimaginable. I am honoured and thrilled to have the opportunity.” 

Over the course of his career Abdullah Ibrahim has performed with the greatest names to ever emerge from South Africa’s legendary jazz scene including his work with Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Jonas Gwangwa, Kippie Moeketsi and many more. 

“As I embrace my 90th year, I am delighted to be undertaking these concerts… for me, they are a deeply personal dream – envisaged first many years ago. Perhaps when as a free South African I bought land, or perhaps so many years before that when I was forced to exile? But certainly, I was thrown into sharp relief during the Covid pandemic, when I wondered if, or when, I would see “home” again” says Ibrahim. 

Recently Abdulllah Ibrahim released his latest album. Entitled “3”, it’s a recording of two sets from London’s Barbican Hall. Cleave Guyton Jr (on flute and piccolo), Noah Jackson (on bass and cello) make up the trio and are featured on both sets with Ibrahim. “3” includes the much-loved tracks NisaBarakat and many more and comprises both the London performances. 

The concerts in South Africa form part of a world tour for Abdullah Ibrahim as he performs around the world, visiting cities and cultures that in their time were pivotal in his exiled life. 

EVENT DATES

12 April – Cape Town, City Hall

14 April – Gauteng – SunBet Arena at Time Square. (Menlyn, Gauteng). 

Tickets on sale from Tuesday 20 February at www.ticketpro.co.za

More about Abdullah Ibrahim:

Abdulllah Ibrahim is one of the world’s greatest piano players and composers, of whom Nelson Mandela famously quipped said: “Bach, Beethoven…? We’ve got better!” 

His life has spanned nine decades and almost every continent. Born and raised in District Six in South Africa, he is the last surviving member of a generation of truly global jazz giants, an elite that included his mentor Duke Ellington and the legends with whom he lived and played.

He was at the forefront of playing bebop with a Cape Town flavour and 1958 saw the formation of the Dollar Brand Trio. His groundbreaking septet the Jazz Epistles, formed in 1959 (with saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwanga, bassist Johnny Gertze and drummer Makaya Ntshoko), recorded the first jazz album by South African musicians. That same year, he met and first performed with vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin; they were to marry six years later.

After the notorious Sharpeville massacre of 1960, mixed-race bands and audiences were defying the increasingly strict apartheid laws, and jazz symbolised resistance, so the government closed a number of clubs and harassed the musicians. Some members of the Jazz Epistles went to England with the musical King Kong and stayed in exile. These were difficult times in which to sustain musical development in South Africa. In 1962, with Nelson Mandela imprisoned and the ANC banned, Dollar Brand and Sathima Bea Benjamin left the country, joined later by the other trio members Gertze and Ntshoko, and took up a three-year contract at the Club Africana in Zürich. There, in 1963, Sathima persuaded Duke Ellington to listen to them play, which led to a recording session in Paris – Duke Ellington presents the Dollar Brand Trio – and invitations to perform at key European festivals, and on television and radio during the next two years.

In 1990 Mandela, freed from prison, invited him to come home to South Africa. The fraught emotions of acclimatising there are reflected in Mantra Modes (1991), the first recording with South African musicians since 1976, and in Knysna Blue (1993). He memorably performed at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.

A martial arts Black Belt with a lifelong interest in zen philosophy, he takes every opportunity to visit his master on private trips to Japan. “Karate is a derivative of the original Chinese traditional forms and has been an important part of my life for a long time” says Ibrahim. In 2003 he performed charity concerts at temples in Kyoto and Shizuoka, the proceeds going to the M7 academy. Abdullah Ibrahim remains at his zenith, as a musician and a tireless initiator of new projects. In his own words: “Some do it because they have to do it. We do it because we want to, so we do not require much sleep, so we have to do it” 

The recipient of many awards and honorary doctorates, spiritually strong as both teacher and disciple, Professor Abdullah Ibrahim is a true inheritor of the ancestral name SENZO.

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