DUET - Archie SHEPP & Dollar Brand 1978

Dollar Brand is a gifted player, excellent on ballads and able to combine African rhythms and a jazz sensibility in a totally original manner. He began playing piano at seven, and was part of a superb group the Jazz Epistles with Hugh Masekela. This band made the first genuine South African jazz record in 1960. Brand, now known as Abdullah Ibrahim, left South Africa with his wife Sathima Bea Benjamin in 1962 and moved to Zurich. He met Duke Ellington there, who arranged a recording session with him in 1963 and then two years later sponsored an appearance by him at the Newport Jazz Festival. Brand played with Elvin Jones in 1966, toured Europe as a soloist and played in groups with such musicians as Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri and Johnny Gertze. He converted to Islam in 1968. After a return to South Africa and some extensive recording sessions in 1976, Ibrahim moved permanently to New York. He formed his septet Ekaya in 1983.

DUET 1978

Archie SHEPP ts, Dollar BRAND aka Abdullah IBRAHIM p,

A somewhat surprising pairing at the time, the former firebrand of the tenor sax and the wonderful South African pianist found a pleasant and relaxed meeting point. By 1978, Shepp had largely abandoned the ferocious attack that gained him renown in the '60s, settling on a rich, Ben Webster-ish tone and playing a repertoire consisting of modern standards and bluesy originals. Two such pieces, the lovely Dave Burrell/Marion Brown composition "Fortunato" and Mal Waldron's "Left Alone," are highlights of this session, Shepp's burnished tone as soft as an old shoe. Ibrahim is a fairly deferential partner here, generally preferring to play the role of accompanist, although certainly one sprinkling his work with plenty of ideas for Shepp to work off. But the prevailing sense of relaxation begins to pall after a while and one wishes for a bit more of the old rough and tumble that these two were surely capable of. Still, for those who enjoyed Shepp's mid-'70s dates for Arista/Freedom and Ibrahim's more subdued group efforts of the late '70s and early '80s, there's much good listening here.

To be continued...

1 comment:

josh said...

such a sweet tone from Archie Shepp. I thought he would be much mor e"out there." I chose to wake my girlfirend up from a nap with Theme from "Proof of the Man." She awoke with a sublime smile. Man, I can't get enough of the floating sweet sound of Ibrahim either. Great stuff.