Ibrahim Khalil Shihab – Essence of Spring (2019)

Ibrahim Khalil Shihab - Essence of Spring (2019)
Artist: Ibrahim Khalil Shihab
Album: Essence of Spring
Label: Mountain Records
Year Of Release: 2019
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

01. Spring
02. I Hear Music
03. Cancerian Moon
04. Jing’an Park
05. Angel of Love
06. It’s You or No One / Come Rain Come Shine / My Funny Valentine (Piano Version)
07. Give a Little Love
08. In Pursuance
09. Bo-Kaap
10. My Funny Valentine


Jazz musicians are a gloriously democratic mob – but some jazz audiences (Gauteng, I’m looking at you here) and self-appointed critics can be less so. It ought to be enough that the music is rich with improvisation, and infused with African groove or American swing – or very often both.

But no. Large swathes of jazz from the Western Cape in particular risk getting confined in the boxes of pop or dance music when they swing or groove too much, or feature a vocalist out front singing about “lurve”.

The boxes shouldn’t matter, but since they impact coverage, airplay and marketing decisions, they do: that’s how musicians eat.

Ironically, those same Gautengers who act all sniffy when they hit the Cape Town Jazz Festival and encounter improvised music shaped for “jazzing”, still offer respect to Abdullah Ibrahim’s Manenberg – the most perfect piece of bump jive ever written.

But it’s musicians of Ibrahim’s generation, born before South African university music schools opened their doors to Black jazz, who pioneered what the broad church of jazz is really all about. One we don’t hear half enough about is pianist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, now in his 70s but still making new music.

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