Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Abdullah IBRAHIM (Dollar Brand) - Black Lightning 1976
A rare LP, still unreleased on disc as of 2001, Black Lightning finds the great pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (still generally known as Dollar Brand at this point) in the company of a number of fellow South African musicians for a very fine session that focuses on his township roots. The title track is a joyous, bouncing affair with the three-reed frontline strutting their stuff over a rolling rhythm that never loses its impetus. The melody is infectious and danceable, certainly relating to the local bands with whom Ibrahim grew up and played. The legendary tenor saxophonist Basil Manenberg plays with utter authority and is quite willing to extend into relatively free playing given the context. "Little Boy" has a decidedly funky feel and points the way toward a style that Ibrahim would dip into occasionally in the ensuing decades: a more relaxed, less ecstatically driven music than that which he practiced in the '60s and early '70s. "Black & Brown Cherries" finds him switching somewhat uncomfortably to electric piano with a quartet (though the song itself is enjoyable enough) and he takes things out with a homage to one of his heroes, Monk's "Blue Monk." Black Lightning, though not of the caliber of his incredible solo performances, covers several facets of Ibrahim's art and is well worth picking up if you're lucky enough to come across it.
By Brian Olewnick, All Music Guide.
If you look carefully on the liner notes for Black Lightning, you'll see the date 1976, the year of the Soweto student uprising, suggesting that this album was recorded shortly before Brand, disturbed by the continuing danger and cruelty in his homeland, once again sought refuge in New York. (There he based his ongoing successful career as Abudllah Ibrahim, until 15 years later he was able to return to record in South Africa.) Black Lightning's opening title track rides on a soulful blues vamp maintained by Brand's strong left hand, with tenors Coetzee (here calling himself "Basil Mannenberg") and Duku Makasi and veteran South African altoist Kippie Moketsi pursuing long solo meditations.
"Little Boy" returns to the Church of Mbaqanga, its affirming progressions satisfying the soul and Moketsi's slightly raw intonation working well against the sweetness. on "Black and Brown Cherries," Brand is again working an uncredited alternative keyboard, with soulful effect. In a rare (for this period) departure from original material, Brand closes the album with Thelonious's "Blue Monk," but the slack swing and less-than-apt improvisations suggest that this particular group should have stuck closer to home.
By Jeff Kaliss. AAJ.
Abdullah Ibrahim- Piano, Piano (Electric)
Kippie Moketsi- Alto Sax;
Basil Manenberg- Tenor Sax & Flute;
Duku Makasi- Tenor Sax;
Sipho Gumede- Bass
Monty Weber, Gilbert Matthews- Drums.
A1. Black Lightning 15:00
B1. Little Boy 8:00
B2. Black & Brown Cherries 6:00
B3. Blue Monk 7:00