Album #548 – Water from an Ancient Well

Album #548

Abdullah Ibrahim is a South African jazz pianist who, along with trumpeter Hugh Masekela, shaped South African Jazz during Apartheid. Ibrahim’s influences are all over the place. Gospel, ragas, modern jazz, swing, Monk, Ellington, and be-bop all mix into his music. Cape jazz is the moniker that is used most to describe it. The diversity of his music is also similar to New Orleans Jazz, in that it has so many influences melding together. That is why I love New Orleans culture and music so much. The best of everything available coming together to create something new. It is brilliant and what good music should be. Water from an Ancient Well is a prime example of this also because of the fact that many of the album’s musicians are Americans. It makes for a very interesting sound. The album is produced by Ibrahim’s wife, jazz singer Sathima Bea Benjamin. The track, Song for Sathima, was no doubt written for her. The two would work together on many projects over the course of their careers. They even recorded together the first ever South African jazz LP, My Songs for You, in 1965. Water from an Ancient Well is one of their finest collaborations and one of the best jazz albums I have ever heard to date. It captures a range of emotion: from the happiness of Mendala and Mennenberg (Revisited) to the elegance of The Mountain and The Wedding. It is also an album where 80’s slick and synths haven’t crept in. Instead, Water from an Ancient Well sounds more like an album that would have been released between 1955 and 1965, in what I like to call the Golden Age of Jazz. It would have fit right in with A Love Supreme and Kind of Blue. The qualities that make those albums classics are also found on Water from an Ancient Well. Other highlights include: Tuang Guru, Water from an Ancient Well and Sameeda. Overall, I give Water from an Ancient Well, 4.5 out of 5.

Next: Hunting High and Low by a-ha

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