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Abdullah Ibrahim

Biography

When Duke Ellington sings your praises, people listen. Originally known as Dollar Brand, South African born Abdullah Ibrahim was discovered in Zurich by the Duke in 1963. Ibrahim grew up in Cape Town where native hymns were played alongside American Gospel and jazz. Ellington’s music struck Ibrahim even as a child and it had a big impact on his own style. Like Duke and Thelonious Monk, Ibrahim’s music is complex even at its simplest. Ibrahim moved to New York and spent the latter half of the '60s working with cutting edge jazz innovators. In 1968, he converted to Islam and the effect on his music was immediate. Since that time the African influence on his small and large groups has been enormous. His playing became unique in the world of jazz and African music. With the end of Apartheid, Abdullah Ibrahim is now free to travel between North America, Europe, and South Africa. His music has never known such borders.

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