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Bombella by Abdullah Ibrahim
Released: Feb 2010
Label: Sunnyside
Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim was South Africa's first international jazz export. Here, Ibrahim joins forces with arranger Steve Gray in paying tribute to both the American music that inspired him (Duke Ellington in particular, though Thelonious Monk gets a shout-out), the music of the church he was raised in and the land that nurtured him. There is a lightness and sparseness to Gray's charts that make you forgot that the German WDR Orchestra is featured throughout (listen to the sumptuous "Meditation - Joan Capetown Flower"). The feel of this one is just right, and ends up conveying a positive view of the human spirit that too often seems lacking in these troubled times.
Nick Dedina