A Rare Performance From Abdullah Ibrahim

 The hall at the Barbican in London was sold out and silent as Abdullah Ibrahim slowly walked gracefully on stage to his grand piano. Without a word he sat down and played a 45-minute free-flow set to an engrossed audience, then got up, put his hands together in a gesture of thanks and walked off.

We were still applauding when he came back and did another set, only slightly shorter.

All amazing, moody stuff. How he gets such a full sound from one piano is a secret. He is a very calm player, sitting upright and absorbed, giving nothing away.

Abdullah Ibrahim is now 81. He’d come, a very tall man with long fingers and grey hair, from Switzerland where his home, studio, and new fiancée are (his first wife, singer Bea Benjamin died in 2013), and presented almost three hours of solid gorgeous music ranging from jazz, to classical, sounds that must have started at the crossroads in Cape Town, almost bebop and Irish reels, moody ramblings switching tempo in a note.

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The only thing missing was that there was no rendition of the tune we all associate with him, Mannenberg written in 1974. But the concert was far too sophisticated to shout out “Play Mannenberg!” and nobody did.

His quest, he has said, is to become one with the universe and one with nature. Saturday night at the Barbican he seemed to have achieved his goal.

source: The South Africa.com

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