Abdullah Ibrahim and the Mahotella Queens among highlights of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2014

This article is from 2014

Abdullah Ibrahim and the Mahotella Queens among highlights of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2014

The Mahotella Queens

The festival also features performances from Freshlyground, the Bad Plus and Zoe Rahman

Jazz is a living artform, but Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival's programming can be a little too reliant on tribute shows and revivalists. There are always some gems, however, and this year's Mandela Day Concert is a must-see, featuring the great South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim, formerly known as Dollar Brand; mbaqanga (South African dance music) legends the Mahotella Queens; and contemporary South African stars Freshlyground (although the less said about the latter's slick MOR pop the better).

As a member of the Jazz Epistles alongside Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela, Ibrahim recorded the first album by a black South African band. Moving to Europe in the early 60s, his Dollar Brand Trio combined township folk influences with Ellingtonia, hard bop and the avant-garde. Championed by Sir Duke himself, Ibrahim would go on to work with everyone from Max Roach and Don Cherry, to Archie Shepp and fellow South African Johnny Dyani (check out their amazing Echoes from Africa from 1979). Returning to South Africa in the 1970s, Ibrahim worked with a number of Cape Town musicians, developing the Cape jazz sound which yielded classics like 'Mannenberg', an unofficial national anthem during the apartheid era. He'll be performing solo in Edinburgh, all the better to hear his elegant, soulful and adventurous piano playing.

Of the Festival's contemporary jazz offerings, highlights include New York piano trio the Bad Plus, famed for their frisky tunes and quirky rock covers, and the excellent young British pianist Zoe Rahman, who leads the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra.

Mandela Day Concert, Fri 18 Jul; Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra, Sat 26 Jul, both at Edinburgh Festival Theatre; The Bad Plus, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 26 Jul.

Abdullah Ibrahim - Mannenberg

The Bad Plus

Inventive piano, bass and drums trio of Reid Anderson (nass), Dave King (drums) and pianist Orrin Evans who replaced founding member Ethan Iverson in January 2018.

Mandela Day Concert

Three South African music acts take to the stage for the opening of Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival on Mandela Day. Revered pianist Abdullah Ibrahim who played at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration opens the show, followed by Freshlyground who performed the official song of the World Cup in 2010. Closing the show are the…

Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra Directed by Zoe Rahman. Edinburgh Schools Jazz Orchestra

In 1965 Britain’s leading jazz musician, Tubby Hayes, put together an Orchestra to play at the time of the Commonwealth Conference. With the Games in full swing in Glasgow, we present an updated band that plays some of the music of the mid-60’s – by Tubby, Jimmy Deuchar, Rob McConnell and Gil Evans, and brings it up to…