The Stride - 9:37
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - 2:48
The Dream - 7:48
Tintiyana - 4:33
Obluegato - 6:49
Honey - 4:35
Dollar Brand (known since 1968 as Abdullah Ibrahim) The Stride
One of the major jazz artists hailing from Africa, Abdullah Ibrahim was born in 1934 in Capetown, South Africa, with the given name Adolph Johannes Brand. He adopted the nickname Dollar early in his career and used it until converting to Islam in 1968. Ibrahim was playing professionally by his mid-teens in his homeland and by 1959 he joined The Jazz Epistles, which featured trumpeter Hugh Masekela. By 1962, he left his homeland for Europe with vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin, whom he married in 1965. While performing with his trio (bassist Johnny Gertze and drummer Makaya Ntshoko) in a Zurich club, he was heard by Duke Ellington. The maestro was so enthusiastic that he insisted upon producing the pianist’s debut album as a leader, along with one featuring Benjamin accompanied by her future husband’s trio, with both sessions taking place in February, 1963. Ibrahim soon gained exposure in the U.S. by guesting with Ellington’s orchestra and appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival. Though he worked in bands led by in Jones, Don Cherry and others, Ibrahim is primarily known as a leader and composer, while he has also written and recorded several film soundtracks.
Abdullah Ibrahim’s trio, with bassist Johnny Gertzke and drummer Makya Tshoko, was recorded on January 30, 1965 during an evening at the famous Montmartre Jazzhuis in Copenhagen. All but one song are originals by the leader. “The Stride” opens with a shimmering tremolo, accompanied by an ominous bass line that gradually turns into a galloping vamp that suggests the dawn of a new day on the African plains. The sole standard is “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” which Ibrahim gives his own stamp, mostly playing it as a dramatic piano solo but incorporating a few humorous moments. His brooding ballad “The Dream” has a dissonant flavor suggestive of Thelonious Monk, while the combination of repeated lines and sudden changes in direction in his solo feature “Obluegato” sound like Bud Powell. Ibrahim’s breezy African dance “Tintinyana” proves infectious, while his challenging “Honey” has the complexity of Herbie Nichols’ compositions. These early live recordings reveal Abdullah Ibrahim who is equally at home in the budding post-bop scene as well as his more African-influenced works.