Festival Review:  Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim. Photo from Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Festival Review:  Abdullah Ibrahim

Jazz pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim started playing in the 50s at the height of the popular jazz movement and recorded the first South African jazz record.

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Abdullah Ibrahim. Photo from Adelaide Festival of Arts.
Abdullah Ibrahim. Photo from the Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Presented by Arts Projects Australia
Reviewed 11 March 2015

Although labelled and best known as a jazz pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim is one of those artists who transcend their base genre whilst still remaining true to it.

Cape Town born and bred, Ibrahim started playing in the 50s at the height of the popular jazz movement, and recorded, with the Jazz Epistles, the first South African jazz record.

His work is imbued with the sounds of his Cape childhood, along with the myriad influences on his life and work, over his 82 years.

His concert in Adelaide consisted of two pieces, one nearly an hour long, and one around 15 minutes. This is not easy-listening. Nor is it strictly, hard-core jazz. He took the audience on a remarkable journey of tones, melodies and glimpses of the sounds of other instruments whilst sitting quietly and undramatic at the Steinway: imagine Beethoven being commissioned to write for Bill Evans, and you might get some idea. The playing was flawless, and there were moments that reached the sublime. A standing ovation attested to his genius.

The only sour note (pardon the pun), was the venue. Adelaide Town Hall was a great, acoustic choice for this gig but the uncomfortable chairs made for a difficult time when there were such long stretches of listening. I also found it incredible that the bar wasn’t open. This is a Festival gig, and it had no atmosphere. No feeling of “festival” about it. No programmes, even.

It felt like a lunchtime recital at a conservatorium. I’m surprised there weren’t people there eating lunch out of a paper bag.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @spectaction

Venue: Adelaide Town Hall, King William Street, Adelaide
Season: 10 March 2015 only
Duration: 90 minutes

 

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