Connect with us


I never plan my concert set list until 30 minutes before the concert – Abdullah Ibrahim



Ibrahim will have shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg in April. He will also launch his M7 Foundation while in Mzansi.

With more than a 100 albums and more than 300 compositions to his name, a career that spans over five decades – many South Africans are eagerly waiting to see if renowned pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim will play some of their favourite ditties when he performs in April.

“I never plan my concert set list until 30 minutes before the concert,” Ibrahim told The Citizen in an interview, adding that he’ll perform an array of songs.

With a discography that very few can match in both consistent quality and quantity, it’s easy to see why the legendary pianist never fusses about his sets – which speaks to his experience gained over the years.

Ibrahim is expected to return to South Africa after a five-year absence for two concerts in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the now German-based artist will also launch his foundation during this time.

This is part of his Water From An Ancient Well Tour.

“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,” he said.

ALSO READ: ‘He’s always given me that respect as an artist,” – Bokani Dyer after sharing stage with father, Steve in New York

A master

Ibrahim was part of septet the Jazz Epistles, formed in 1959 which included other iconic members; saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwanga, bassist Johnny Gertze and drummer Makaya Ntshoko.

The ensemble recorded the first jazz album by South African musicians.

“Seeing him perform live was rapturing, for lack of a more descriptive word,” said South African expat residing in Germany, Sipho Nkosi.

Nkosi saw the jazz maestro live last year in Munich, in an event celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s passing and South African heritage organised by the South African Consulate in Germany and BMW.

“He was playing what not simply sounded like a medley of his enormous catalogue, but there was a sense there that he was telling his life story using notes as letters,” shared Nkosi.

“He did not perform. It wasn’t entertainment. It was like sitting at the feet of a master in total silence while he told you stories from a time long past.”

Home sweet home

The 89 year-old Ibrahim was concerned about whether he’ll be able to return home during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was thrown into sharp relief during the Covid pandemic, when I wondered if, or when, I would see ‘home’ again”

On his return home, Ibrahim said he is most looking forward to “South African food; grapes, melons, fish, vegetables. I create my own cuisine,” averred the composer.

Ibrahim isn’t sure how long he’ll be in Mzansi. “I can stay for some weeks before continuing my world concert tour.”

He suggested a permanent return to the country after the Water From An Ancient Well Tour.

Ibrahim released his latest album tilted 3, which is 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 tracks such as Nisa, Barakat and many more and comprises both the London performances.

NOW READ: Mthunzi Mvubu nails gong at Jazz awards while preparing for last tour with Shabaka and The Ancestors

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *