Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand)

1934 – REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Biography

He learned to play piano as a seven year-old, and started his career as a jazz pianist by pottering around in his hometown of Cape Town on the hunt for jazz records that the mariners carried. To ensure he never missed a bargain, he always kept a dollar in his pocket. Therefore, the artist adopted the name of Dollar Brand, though he later discarded it. Together with trumpet player Hugh Masekela he was a member of the recognised group Jazz Epistles, which made South Africa’s first genuine jazz record in 1960.

Ibrahim left South Africa in 1962 and settled in Zurich. There he met Duke Ellington, who arranged a recording with his band and sponsored Ibrahim’s first appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1965. Later on he would perform alongside a long list of jazz’s big names, such as Gato Barbieri, Don Cherry and Elvin Jones. He moved back to South Africa for a short period in the mid-1970s but now lives permanently in New York, and set up his own band, Ekaya, in 1983.

Abdullah Ibrahim unites African rhythms with jazz in an entirely unique manner and once you’ve got his music under your skin you will never forget it. He has released a row of recordings and this discography represents only a small taste. For a complete discography and a list of announcements, visit his great “unofficial” homepage.