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Sotho Blue by Abdullah Ibrahim
Released: Apr 2011
Label: Sunnyside
There's a certain slyness in the stride of this collection of funky, meticulously arranged tunes from South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. Everything here is a work of pristine taste and musical restraint: the short and concise choruses on "Calypso Minor," the melodic depth of backing flute lines on "The Mountain," the dense voicing of saxophones that opens "Nisa." This stellar collection borrows generously from '70s soul jazz and Gil Evans' school of harmony, and it's among 2011's best jazz offerings from a midsized ensemble.
Nate Cavalieri

Tracks