Abdullah Ibrahim – NCH – Live Review 4-3-16
Abdullah Ibrahim was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1934. He started playing the piano at age nine and performed his first professional gig at the age of fifteen. He departed South Africa in ’62 for Switzerland where he was discovered by Duke Ellington. The rest, as they say, is history! Since that time he has become something of a jazz legend and played around the world. He is known to many in Ireland due to DJs such as Donal Dineen and John Kelly who feature his work regularly. The fact that he is still touring at the age of 81 is something of a surprise, but his style and genial nature make him a pleasure to watch.
He emerged on stage at the Concert Hall at 8pm and made his way to the piano in what could best be described as a shuffle. The night was called solo piano and it delivered in that regard. The piano was without amplification and the early delicate segments made you worry that it would be lost in such a large space, but the sound grew to easily fill the auditorium. The performance only featured one small break after about an hour, as the songs and improvisations flowed gently from one to the next without pause. There were sequences which explored a heavy bass sound, with a pounding attack at the lower range of his instrument, then to be broken up with quieter moments. The songs all featured a number of repeated phrases which were played at intervals, often with subtle differences from one to the next. At the end of the ninety minute set, Abdullah slowly broke from the flow and stood to thank the audience for their applause. The performance was at times mesmeric and at other times soporific, as this fine musician wove a delicate tapestry for the assembled audience.
Abdullah Ibrahim at the NCH was part of the Perspectives series. The next in the series is the Max Richter Ensemble on the 29-05-2016. Not to be missed.