10. 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: