Abdullah Ibrahim – A Brother With Perfect Timing

by | Jul 21, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Abdullah Ibrahim – A Brother With Perfect Timing

Produced by: Chris Austin & Gill Bond
Studio: Maverick Film Works/Music Video Distributors
Video: 4:3 full screen
Audio: PCM stereo
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: ****

This documentary will be of great interest to any jazz buffs who know
and appreciate the many superb recordings from this great South African
pianist and composer.  Originally coming to fame as Dollar Brand,
for years he has gone by  the name Abdullah Ibrahim (but the
documentary mentions nothing of his Muslim conversion).  One of
the unique voices in African Jazz, Ibrahim has incorporated the complex
rhythms and some of the lovely tunes of his heritage into a mainstream
modern jazz style that is as sophisticated as his present home of New
York City. A good part of the film consists of Ibrahim seated near his
upright piano in his apartment and talking about life in Cape Town and
playing occasional musical examples on the piano.  Some of his
enthusiastic stories are illustrated with dramatized episodes on the
streets of Cape Town.  One example is how the ordinary tourist
passing thru would never notice all the undercover dealing and business
going on, such as people playing the numbers game.  One player
walks down an alley with his money in his hand and a manhole suddenly
raises up and an arm grabs it, the lid coming down after.

Intercut with some of Ibrahim’s interesting stories about the music and
the culture are excerpts from a filmed concert his band gave at New
York’s Sweet Basil club. In some cases the tunes are finished versions
of melodies he had been picking out on the piano. There are also scenes
of rehearsals with some of his fellow African jazz musicians.  The
sound is good and most of the images are  fine, although the
scenes with Ibrahim in his apartment would have benefitted from some

– John Henry

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