(born 1934, Cape Town, South Africa), formerly known
as Adolph Johannes Brand, and as Dollar Brand (from
a popular brand of matches), is a South African
pianist and composer.
His music reflects many of the musical
influences of his childhood in the multicultural
port areas of Cape Town, ranging from traditional
African songs to the gospel of the AME Church and
ragas, to more modern jazz and other Western styles.
He first received piano lessons at the age of seven,
was an avid consumer of jazz records brought by
American sailors, and was playing jazz
professionally by 1949. In 1959 and 1960, he played
alongside Kippie Moeketsi with The Jazz Epistles in
Sophiatown before joining the European tour of the
musical King Kong.
In 1962 during a tour of Europe, Duke Ellington
heard �The Dollar Brand Trio� playing in Z�rich's
�Africana Club�. As a result, a recording was set up
with Reprise Records; �Duke Ellington presents The
Dollar Brand Trio�.
The Dollar Brand Trio (with Johnny Gertze on
bass and Makaya Ntshoko on drums) subsequently
played at many European festivals, as well as on
radio and television. Since then he has toured
mainly in Europe, the United States, and in his home
country, South Africa.
Performances are mainly in concerts and clubs,
mostly as a band, but sometimes playing solo piano.
He mainly plays piano but also plays flute, and
saxophone; he mainly performs his own compositions,
although he sometimes performs pieces composed by
He briefly returned to South Africa in
the mid-1970s after his conversion to Islam
(and the resultant change of name from
Dollar Brand to Abdullah Ibrahim); however,
he soon returned to New York in 1976, as he
found the political conditions too
oppressive. While in South Africa, however,
he made a series of recordings with noted
Cape Town jazz players (including Basil
Coetzee and Robbie Jansen). This included
Coetzee's masterpiece, "Mannenberg",
acknowledged by most as one of South
Africa's greatest musical compositions; the
recording soon became an unofficial
soundtrack to the anti-apartheid resistance.
Abdullah Ibrahim has written the
soundtracks for a number of films, including
the award winning Chocolat and, more
recently, No Fear, No Die. Since the end of
apartheid, he now lives in South Africa and
divides his time between his global concert
circuit, New York, and South Africa.
Ibrahim is a towering figure in South
African music, an artist who brings together
all its traditions with a deeply felt
understanding of American jazz, from the
orchestral richness of Duke Ellington's
compositions for big band to the
groundbreaking innovations of Ornette
Coleman and the 1960s avant-garde.
Ibrahim has worked as a solo performer,
typically in mesmerising unbroken concerts
that echo the unstoppable impetus of the old
Marabi performers. He also performs
regularly with trios and quartets and larger
orchestral units. Since his triumphant
return to South Africa in the early 1990s,
he has been feted with symphony orchestra
performances, one of which was in honour of
Nelson Mandela's installation as President.
He has also founded a school for South
African musicians in Cape Town.
With his wife, the jazz singer Sathima
Bea Benjamin, he is father to the New York
underground rapper Jean Grae, as well as to
a son, Tsakwe.
This article is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation Licence. It uses material
from the Wikipedia article "Dollar