Dollar Brand: Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz [2LP'S on 1CD]

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Straightahead / Pianistyka Jazzowa
premiera polska:
kontynent: Afryka
kraj: RPA
opakowanie: Jewelcaseowe etui

Editor's info:
This release presents Dollar Brand’s (aka Abdullah Ibrahim) first trio album and his earliest recording as a leader, as well as one of the very first jazz productions made in Africa. This rare LP, Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz (Gallo Continental ZB8047), reissued in its entirety for the first time ever on CD, is presented here with its original South African cover. Also included here is Brand’s complete long unavailable previous LP, Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 (Gallo Continental CON T-14), issued as by The Jazz Epistles, and on which the same trio is augmented to a sextet with the addition of three reeds, among them the great Hugh Masekela.

"Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz" Recorded on February 4th, 1960, at Johannesburg
"Jazz Epistle – Verse 1" Recorded on January 22, 1960, at Johannesburg
ABDULLAH IBRAHIM - Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz / The Jazz Epistles-Verse 1

Adolph Johannes Brand was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1934. He adopted the stage name Dollar Brand for his first few recordings, before changing his name to Abdullah Ibrahim on his conversion to Islam in 1968. The recording dates of both these sets are from that brief period between the burst of South African jazz and when Ibrahim and fellow musicians fled apartheid in 1962.

This reissue is his first set as leader, in a trio setting, recorded a couple of weeks after the classic recording of the Jazz Epistles Verse 1 (which this CD includes, in full, as ‘bonus tracks’). Originally released on Gallo Continental (ZB8047) in 1962, there was a vinyl reissue in the late 1970s (on the Sun label). You might also be familiar with some of the tracks on this set as the release ‘Blues for a Hip King’ on Sony in the late 1980s. The remastering of both recordings is to a high standard, perhaps better on the first than The Jazz Epistles (originally issued as Gallo Continental CON T-14).

The primary CD reflects, in its title at least, Ibrahim’s love of Monk (‘Sphere’ was Monk’s middle name). With the exception of Monk’s ‘Misterioso’ the compositions reflect the breadth of talent in South African jazz at the time. It is not so easy now to see similarity between Monk and Ibrahim – yes, there is some reflection in phrasing, particularly on the opener ‘Boulevard East’ and in the version of ‘Just you, just me’ (with its heavy quoting from Bemsha Swing), and yes, there is something about the heaviness of the left hand, but Ibrahim plays a more exuberant style and, to my ear, has a right hand that is slightly in advance on his left which lends a syncopation to the playing that contrasts with the studied disjointedness of Monk. The melodic lines owe more to Ibrahim’s other hero, Duke Ellington, and the trio recording here has something of Ellington’s trio sets. The interplay between Gertze and Ntshoko provides a solid support to the piano, with a strong emphasis on bebop rhythms. There is a lovely quote from Ellington to Ibrahim when they met, “You’re blessed because you come from the source” (reflecting Ellington’s fascination with African rhythms and music).

If the ‘Plays Sphere Jazz’ has a sense of exploring the world of contemporary bebop, the Jazz Epistles CD, with the additional players, has a feeling of looking back. The playing recreates some of the big band playing of the 1950s, albeit in a sextet. In this setting, Ibrahim’s piano playing carries much more of the Ellington lightness and commitment to melody (I was continually reminded of Ellington’s solo piano playing). However, what you also get from these recordings is the way in which South African music was forging its own sense of jazz and the individual style that Ibrahim was developing before he moved to Europe. The playing of all the musicians on both of these sets, shows them in full mastery of their instruments and ready to take the jazz world by storm.
Reviewed by Chris Baber

"Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz":
Dollar Brand: Piano
Johnny Gertze: Bass
Makaya Ntshako: Drums

"Jazz Epistle – Verse 1":
Dollar Brand: Piano
Johnny Gertze: Bass
Makaya Ntshako: Drums
Hugh Masekela: Trumpet
Kippie Moeketsi: Saxophone
Jonas Gwangwa: Trombone

1. Boulevard East - bonus track
2. Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz - Khumbala Jane
3. Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz - Sad Time, Bad Time/King Kong
4. Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz - Blues For B
5. Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz - Misterioso
6. Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz - Just You, Just Me
7. Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz - Eclipse At Dawn
8. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Dollar's Moods
9. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Blues For Hughie
10. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Uku-Jonga Phambili
11. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - I Remember Billy
12. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Vary-Oo-Vum
13. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Carol's Drive
14. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Gafsa
15. Jazz Epistle – Verse 1 - Scullery Department

wydano: Mar 25, 2022 (1960)



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Dollar Brand Plays Sphere Jazz [2LP'S on 1CD]
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