Abdullah Ibrahim revisits seven of his old compositions on this release, recorded live in Germany with the 17-piece NDR Big Band under the direction of Dieter Glawischnig. The new arrangements by Steve Gray and Fritz Pauer give Ibrahim’s infectious melodies and rolling vamps added power. Even Ibrahim seems excited: between tunes he verbally invites the audience to “come with us” (e.g., “Now come with us to an African Market,” “Now come with us, a beautiful African sunset, and soft rain, soft rain, Pule.”). “African Market,” “Kramat,” and “Black and Brown Cherries” are nothing if not danceable, while “Mindif” and the relatively brief “Whoza Mtwana” introduce a more contemplative mood. The charts leave plenty of room for resourceful solos, chiefly by trombonist Joe Gallardo, saxophonist/flutist Fiete Felsch, trumpeters Claus Stötter and Ingold Burkhardt, and of course Ibrahim himself. Stötter takes a hair-raising flugelhorn chorus on the finale, a rousing “Duke 88”; he’s followed ably by Lutz Büchner on clarinet and Frank Delle on tenor sax. In addition to their soloists, the big band also has a highly efficient rhythm section in guitarist Stephan Diez, bassist Lucas Lindholm, drummer Alex Riel, and percussionist José Cortijo. Ekapa Lodumo makes a nice companion piece to 1999’s African Suite, which featured Ibrahim’s trio in the company of strings (and boasted a contrasting arrangement of “Mindif”).
24 Feb 2001