Mukashi – Once Upon a Time

Release Date: 24 Feb 2013

Over the course of a career dating back to the ’50s, South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand) has been known for playing a distinct brand of jazz that draws on the music of his homeland. 2014’s Mukashi, which incorporates Japanese influences, features pieces evocative of chamber music. Ibrahim is joined here by winds player Cleave Guyton (a member of Ibrahim’s group Ekaya) and two cellists, Eugen Bazijan and Scott Roller. The brief, meditative title track for voice and flute leads into “Dream Time,” a lovely composition for piano, flute, and cello that’s tinged with a noir vibe. “The Stars Will Remember,” a standard from the ’40s recorded by Frank Sinatra, gets an artfully hesitant solo piano reading. “Matzikama” has sustained flute and cello tones tickled by staccato piano. “Mississippi” features bluesy clarinet from Guyton and a plucked cello that serves as a bass line. “Krotoa” is a short three-part suite about a South African girl’s first encounter with Europeans in the 17th century. Spare piano, more cello-as-bass, and fluttery flute mark the closer, “The Balance.”