|Abdullah Ibrahim, South Africa's foremost jazz messenger, is like an African historian, reading from books of sound which have been written in people’s memories. He teaches us that music is a deeply spiritual practice exercised not in churches or mosques, but inside, in the human soul. For nearly forty years Abdullah Ibrahim's soulful music out of South Africa has been moving audiences worldwide. Its universal language results from the amalgam of jazz, African rhythm, Arabic influences, English choral and European romantic music and always radiates spiritual truth and communicative power.
When you attend a concert by South African music master Abdullah Ibrahim, you get immediately and completely drawn into a special space that only he seems to be able to create. It is hard to describe what is going on within this space. It is like a continuing dance that changes directions in the shade of African trees, visiting the "dreamtime" of the South African ancestors, circling the Thaba Bosiu mountain in Lesotho, stomping through Capetown's Sophiatown and District Six, watching the minstrels arrive on the Confederate ship "Alabama," following cues given by Duke Ellington, the "wise old man in the village," as Abdullah Ibrahim calls him, entering the South African Methodist Episcopal Church, quoting hymns of the descendants of Malaysian freedom fighters who fled to South Africa, evoking Angolan samba mood and the hypnotic steps of a bolero in tai chi speed…
One of these magical trips into that other space took place at the eleventh and last edition of the "Jazz Across The Border" Festival in July 2001, which had been exploring the impulses jazz received from world cultures for more than a decade. Whoever listened to Abdullah Ibrahim's trio and solo performance in the hall of the House of World Cultures in Berlin, was gripped by his African Magic. A stellar hour.