Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim

“Stark pianism and gently rapturous compositions are steeped in the bright harmonies and bouncing rhythms of (Ibrahim’s) native Cape Town.”– New York Times

 

NEA Master Abdullah Ibrahim is South Africa’s most distinguished pianist, a global jazz icon. His music inspired a generation and his most famous song, Mannenberg, became a theme song of the struggle against Apartheid.

Ibrahim himself lived mostly in exile from the early 60’s, in New York and Europe, and is one of very few surviving artists of that era who continues to have a vibrant recording and performing career, well into his eighties. 

For more than a quarter-century he has toured the world extensively, appearing at major concert halls, clubs and festivals, giving sell-out performances, as solo artist or with other renowned artists (notably, Max Roach, Carlos Ward and Randy Weston).

His collaborations with classical orchestras have resulted in acclaimed recordings, such as African Suite (1999, with members of the European Union Youth Orchestra) and the Munich Radio Philharmonic orchestra symphonic version, “African Symphony” (2001), which also featured the trio and the NDR Jazz Big Band.

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.”