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Jazz Epistles w/ Abdullah Ibrahim, Wadada Leo Smith & Ekaya
South African Legends

Jazz Epistles w/ Abdullah Ibrahim, Wadada Leo Smith & Ekaya

Fri, Feb 23 2018 | 7:30 PM
Miner Auditorium
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South African jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim first heard the call of modern jazz in the late 1950s, and along with Hugh Masekela, founded the pioneering Jazz Epistles—a hard bop ensemble modeled on Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers that was first black jazz combo to record in South Africa.

With heavy hearts, we must acknowledge the loss of trumpeter, composer, singer, activist, and South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela, who passed on January 23rd in Johannesburg at age 78. From his pioneering role in South African jazz as a member of the Jazz Epistles and his status as a pop star with the 1968 crossover hit “Grazing in the Grass” to his tireless work to help abolish apartheid and his advocacy on behalf of fellow African musicians, Masekela was a cultural icon and a symbol of inclusiveness and joy. His enormous contributions to art and humanitarian causes will live on.

The Jazz Epistles concerts at SFJAZZ from 2|22–25 will feature trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith standing in for Masekela, and the performances will be dedicated to his memory.

Ibrahim, the pianist Nelson Mandela called “South Africa’s Mozart” brings back the spirit of this band for these exclusive performances in tribute to Masekela, joined by Ibrahim’s group Ekaya and guest trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. The short-lived Jazz Epistles were scattered by the infamous 1960 Sharpeville massacre which left Ibrahim and Masekela in exile, and over the ensuing years, each has developed evocative bodies of work combining jazz and South African sounds, continuing to thrive since returning to their homeland following the release of Nelson Mandela. For this tribute to their shared legacy, the pianist assembled a new incarnation of the Jazz Epistles drawing on players from his Ekaya ensemble, which he created to evoke the four-part vocal harmony groups heard everywhere during his township childhood. Standing in for Masekela, Wadada Leo Smith is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and an iconic figure who has been exploring the outer fringes of the music for over four decades, while remaining deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. He is an early member of Chicago’s legendary Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and has worked with Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Derek Bailey, Muhal Richard Abrams, and others. He last appeared at SFJAZZ in duet with Resident Artistic Director Vijay Iyer, performing music from their 2015 ECM duo release, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke.

The Jazz Epistles (Wikipedia)

In Matchup of Jazz Greats, ‘The Calm’ Meets ‘The Storm’ Head On (KQED Arts)

More

South Africa's greatest bebop band of all time re-unites for the first time since 1960, when the racist apartheid government forced them into exile.

South Africa's greatest bebop band of all time ... the story of The Jazz Epistles is deeply engraved in South African cultural history, and celebrated throughout the African continent

NPR

South Africa's greatest bebop band of all time ... the story of The Jazz Epistles is deeply engraved in South African cultural history, and celebrated throughout the African continent

NPR

Watch & Listen

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