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JazzTimes 10: Essential Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim Recordings

Ten pieces, in chronological order, that document the NEA Jazz Master's musical journey

The Balance10. Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: “Dreamtime” (The Balance; Gearbox, 2019)

A “new” composition (which Ibrahim actually began performing in 2012, but didn’t record until now), “Dreamtime,” like “The Wedding,” features Cleave Guyton on an unimprovised lead. The context, however, is completely different. Guyton plays flute, not alto, for one thing; for another, the piece is moody and mysterious. And while Guyton still doesn’t improvise, Ibrahim does, in short, subtle phrases that are more like obbligati than fully formed improvisational lines. Apart from its sophistication, both compositional and emotional, it’s hard to say anything with certainty about meaning or evocation in “Dreamtime”; the very idea of dreams has multiple layers of meaning in Ibrahim’s culture and in his music. This opening track of The Balance sets a similarly multilayered tone: ephemeral, ambiguous, strange, and beautiful.

Listen to a Spotify playlist featuring most of the tracks in this JazzTimes 10:

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.