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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Water From An Ancient Well

Abdullah Ibrahim

1986

Water From An Ancient Well
Album Summary

Water from an Ancient Well is a jazz album by South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim that was first released in 1986. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.03

Votes

10552

Genres

  • Jazz

Reviews

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Wed Dec 15 2021
4

On one of my first visit to Cape Town I was having a drink with  a black man who was a local. He pointed at a person with brown skin across the room and, said ¨the coloured guy over there is a good friend.¨ He was incredulous when I told him that in my country the term ¨coloured¨ was a derogatory term for a black man. He informed me that  under the Apartheid regime,  people were segregated into Blacks, Whites (mainly Afrikaans) and Coloureds (which were everyone else). Those terms are still used to describe people but are not considered racist and the severe ramifications of being in one group or the other are no longer proscribed by the government. Abdullah Ibrahim would have been a coloured person.  The Wiki notes for this one are quite limited. As one can tell from the names of some of the songs, there is a political side to this. The song Mandela is an obvious one given he was sitting in Robben Island at the time this was released. Mannenberg Revisited  was a well known and highly political song. I read that a copy of the record was snuck onto Robben Island and when Nelson Mandela heard it he remarked that ¨liberation is near¨.  Mannenberg is about the forced removal of those defined as coloured people from a downtown neighbourhood to the suburbs of Cape Town. What boggles the mind is that these songs effectively conveyed the message of protest and uprising  without lyrics.  Song for Sathima is about his wife Sathima Bea Benjamin  If you're interested, Spotify has a wonderful EP called African Songbird with three  of her tunes including Africa which is an avant garde jazz sung with love for her  Africa.

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Fri Jan 14 2022
5

Gorgeous, sensitive, buttery smooth jazz. Wonderful. Like sinking into a warm, comfy mattress.

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Thu Mar 17 2022
4

Awfully good and easy-swinging. Highly polished in composition and tone and execution. There’s real elegance in the straightforwardness and simplicity of the playing and a richness and warmth from the large format. Just strong all the way around. Solid 4.

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Wed Feb 02 2022
4

The music that plays when you get kicked out of a cantina.

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Mon Nov 27 2023
3

Is this good jazz? Is this bad jazz? All I feel qualified to say is that this is definitely jazz.

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Thu Feb 24 2022
1

The score to a looney tunes cartoon when nothing is happening.

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Thu Mar 03 2022
5

Great album - caught me by surprise. Has a timeless quality, many of the tracks harken back to roots in the 50s or 60s. Definitely a keeper!

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Fri Sep 29 2023
5

Simply delightful! The music just ebbs and flows like a river. Saved to my playlist

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Thu Sep 30 2021
2

Having just listened to Time out by the Dave Brubeck quartet i felt that the 30 years that separated the two albums hadn’t been kind to Jazz. It didn’t flow well for me, the transition from one track to another was too harsh at times. The tracks I enjoyed Mandela - quite punchy and upbeat, it’s gets the album off to a good start. Manenberg revisited- starts slow and builds up, whilst it’s quite repetitive it allows you to follow the beat and relax into it. Tuang guru - reminded me of the backing music to a 1950’s black and white cop film The ones I didn’t Sameeda- too “all over the place” with its beat, just couldn’t relax with it. There’s a couple of tracks I would listen to again, but not the whole album

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Fri Apr 28 2023
2

Ik word zenuwachtig van muziek met een bassist die steeds 'onderweg is'. Loopt over de hele hals van zijn bas, als een hondje die maar niet kan beslissen waar ie gaat poepen.

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Wed Nov 29 2023
2

In one ear and out the other.

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Fri Oct 22 2021
5

Some lovely Jazz! Going into my library.

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Tue Nov 09 2021
5

Nice smooth swinging jazz. My type to listen too.

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Fri Sep 15 2023
5

7/5 awesome album..had been listening to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, then this came along …wonderful…even found Ricky Ford my new favorite saxophonist….saxophone has always gotten into my soul deeply…

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Fri Oct 06 2023
5

Wasn’t really in the mood for it but solid

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Mon Oct 03 2022
4

Although it was a little behind the times for the year this was released, it's an excellent assortment of original cool-jazz compositions. Ibrahim's piano is surprisingly sparse on here, but he sounds like a composed and stern father, who speaks up only when needed, and only as much as needed, to keep his somewhat wild, ambitious (and incredibly talented) children (the other musicians) in line. Speaking of the other musicians, dig the crazy bass on Manenberg Revisited, the unusual drum rhythms on Tuang Guru, the silky smooth saxophones on the title track and Song for Sathima, the wistful trombone on Sameeda, the self-assured flute on The Mountain. Only 2 slight critiques, the recording isn't as crisp as I'd like, and sounds more 50's than 80's, and the way all the songs finish with the same flourish is anticlimatic. OverallI, I'm really glad to have heard this and will be listening to more Abdullah Ibrahim in the future.

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Thu Oct 06 2022
4

I did not know what to expect from this album. I’m a huge jazz fan but Ibrahim is not someone whose music I’m familiar with. He’s a pianist, but this is very much an ensemble effort. And it covers so much ground. It opens with Mandela, which really swings, and it never sits still. There are steamy, edgy tunes that reek if New York (Song For Sathima, Tuang Gura). Long, slow pieces (the title track & The Mountain). The Wedding is a beautiful tune in march time. I thought Mannenberg Revisited sounded very 60’s. Turns out it is a re-interpretation of a song he originally recorded in the early 70’s. A song which is often remembered as an unofficial national anthem. And the album ends a bit like it started, with the band really stretching out, on Sameeda. A terrific record.

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Fri Mar 08 2024
3

The cover of this record lead me to believe it was going to be a little more ambient or ethereal than it was, but that’s not a bad thing. This is an interesting, more traditional jazz record which was a nice surprise.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
2

Started good, then solemn, then next track sounds like the menu music or first level music from a child's video game 😂 kinda decent though, enjoyable at least.

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Sun Aug 08 2021
5

Enjoyed this album a lot. Players are all amazing, so much to hear and discover. Will definitely listen to a few more times at least

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Fri Dec 31 2021
5

Ahhh que bonito es lo vi ito

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Mon Jun 27 2022
5

I've often grumbled against the glaring omissions in the jazz selections of this list, but with this particular album, I'm forced to admit that Dimery and co. simply dug gold. I'm not a jazz specialist, just an open-minded amateur, so I didn't know who Abdullah Ibrahim/Dollar Brand was at all. Therefore, I've listened to this record with absolutely zero expectations, and I must say I'm totally enthralled by it now. It started off in quite a subdued way, though. At first, "Mandela" sounded a little too big band-like, almost too quaint to my ears, in spite of the obviously important theme suggested by its name, especially coming from a South African musician. But then each track that followed grasped my attention in a different way, from the gentleness of "Song For Sathima" and the driven focus of "Marenberg Revisited" (a variation on an important musical milestone written by Ibrahim more than a decade earlier--and a significant instrumental statement against Apartheid), and this continuing up to the arabic flavors of "Tuang Guru" and the heartwrenching finale of the short ballad "The Wedding". Closer "Sameena" was also a huge surprise in the way its minimalistic, nearly atonal introduction on brass and winds steadily grew into a meditative piece that ensnared my ear up until the very last Just like for pianist Ibrahim, I didn't know the other performers on this record either, but they're all doing an excellent job conveying the myriad emotions and colors gathered in this tight, tight package. *Water From An Ancient Well*'s scope is so impressive, and its tracklisting is so dynamic--so varied yet so cohesive too--that it instantly got a 5-star mark from me. This sort of thing doesn't often happen, so you can be sure I'll return to that proverbial well from time to time... Number of albums left to review or just listen to: 877 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 67 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 30 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): 27

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Fri Sep 09 2022
5

Everything about this was great. The timing of where it came up for our group also could've helped. We needed something mellow.

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Fri Sep 30 2022
5

I really like this. Makes me feel cheerful. Also having no lyrics makes it so good to listening when focus is needed. Loved it!

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

Love this album and love Jazz in general.

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Wed Dec 07 2022
5

Smooth jazz. Great for background music. Love it!

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Wed Jan 04 2023
5

Fantastic. "Song for Sathima" is so sad and beautiful. And the melody kept surprising me with where it went. The players interact with and contrast each other in interesting, surprising way. Like the bassist who sounds like he's playing these little fragments of scales almost removed from what everyone else is playing. But it fits into the larger picture. The bass is awesome throughout -- it sounds almost funky on "Mannenberg Revisited." I like that the bass is upfront in the mix. Sometimes it can be hard to hear the bass solo in jazz but not here. There's a lot of creative, inspired playing throughout the album. The solos feel untamed. I was surprised to learn that the band leader is the pianist because that's the instrument I noticed the least on a first listen. I'm looking forward to playing to this album more and listening for him.

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Wed Jan 11 2023
5

Jazzy!! good so far! 5 star - maybe not specifically this album although its not bad but all the low key jazz piano music that comes after listening to this is (chefskiss)

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Sun Apr 16 2023
5

I’ve recently made my fondness for trombones known on this site. The trombone is featured throughout this album, giving it an edge in my ratings. This album is an excellent step in further acclimatizing me to jazz. I enjoyed it a lot.

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Thu May 25 2023
5

Dis ca zo, el pimer disco en su toatlidad instrumental que me voló la cabeza, es tan ilustrativo y tan expresivo que lo volví a reescuchar mientras escribo esto, un completo ejemplo de lo que hacer en un disco sonoro. Cuadno destacar, las variaciones, repeticiones, los vientes, que bien los vientos, no se, no se que más decir las palabras nunca son justas enfrente a esta pintura musical 10/10.

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Wed Jun 07 2023
5

Too sophisticated for me but great elevator music

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Thu Aug 31 2023
5

Ancient Well scratched an itch I didn't know I had. Surprising and delightful. Not at all what I was expecting, but exactly what I needed.

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Sat Oct 07 2023
5

I don’t know a lot about jazz, but this album made me want to take the world by its hand and lively dance around a very small room with it, then hold it close and just let time move around me in slow, infinite circles.

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Mon Oct 23 2023
5

These songs are works of art. They go deep. They often have unconventional, exploratory structures but always feel pure of intention. From the heart and the head, but much more towards the heart. The sax playing is very melodic and soulful. Beautiful stuff

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Sat Nov 25 2023
5

I didn’t know peace until I heard this album.

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Sun Dec 03 2023
5

Beautiful melancholic jazz. There are a few swingin' songs on here but most are subdued.

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

Really glad this came up. Definitely gonna listen again!

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Wed Feb 14 2024
5

"Water from an Ancient Well" is a jazz album by South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim. Ibrahim moved to New York in 1960 and lived in exile until the early 1990's. In that time, he recorded this album at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The album was produced by Sathima Bea Benjamin and besides Ibrahim also included Carlos Ward (alto flute), Ricky Ford (tenor sax), Charles Davis (baritone sax), David Williams (bass), Ben Riley (drums) and Dick Griffin (trombone). Ibrahim was a leading figure in the subgenre of Cape jazz. Piano and the horns open "Mandela." This has a fast pace and reminds me of jazz from the 1940's. Separate sax and trombone solos and then they join together. That is a pattern in this album. "Song for Sathima" slows things down with the piano and horns. A New Orleans vibe. An array of sax solos. This is very romantic and perfectly fits the title. "Mannesburg Revisited (Capetown Fringe)" has piano and drums with a machine-like beat. Very nice play between the piano and horns. A dramatic ending. "Water from an Ancient Well" starts with a slow piano melody. The drums and horns come in in unison. Sax and trombone solos all around with the baritone sax knocking it out of the park. And, a bass solo. Yes! The band just jams at the end. Epic at 11 minutes! "The Wedding" is slow and romantic with the tenor sax in lead. This reminded me of a slow dance. The song builds with the piano and drums. And, no they did forget the flautist. "The Mountain" has the alto flute in the lead. This made my day. This is soothing and just a great listen. The multiple horns take turn in the lead both within and between songs. The piano, bass and drums laying the foundation. The music just amazingly fits the song titles. I need to listen to more of Abdullan Ibrahim. Actually, I did after listening to this a few times. I was not disappointed. A recommendation for everyone.

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Thu Feb 15 2024
5

A beautiful album, a real surprise for me. Recorded in 1986, this is classic jazz and sounds like it could have been recorded 20 years sooner. Great playing by everyone involved and fantastic melodies.

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Sun Mar 24 2024
5

Absolutely beautiful. Soft buttery jazz that one simply melts into. Really recommend this album. 👌

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Sun Apr 07 2024
5

A really great album! I hadn't realized that I had heard some of these standards before. Ibrahim is a fantastic pianist. 5/5!

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Fri Apr 19 2024
5

Absolutely beautiful! Ended up listening to it three times and it's been added to my bedtime I'm going to sleep now playlist

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Tue Apr 30 2024
5

Really good! I’d be happy to throw this on anytime.

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Fri May 03 2024
5

Yep, this one is great. Only part that jammed me up is that Apple Music didn’t have it available for the US. So listened in YouTube and got interrupted with ads

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Tue May 14 2024
5

Absolutely goated Jazz album. Feel like I need to play this on a record player, kick my feet up, and drink tea.

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Wed May 15 2024
5

Chill music makes for a nice commute. I'll look into more of his music & compositions.

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Sat Jul 10 2021
4

wowowowww. 7 artists!! “Song for Sathima” was genuinely so relaxing and romantic. nice groovy bass :D

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Wed Jul 07 2021
4

i am surprised at how much i like this. the mellow saxophone and cool jazz vibe make it easy to appreciate and enjoy. it doesn't quite maintain that epic feel for the whole duration, but really solid.

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Thu Jul 29 2021
4

Nice change of pace from the first two listens this week. Easy jazz, and would definitely listen again. 4 stars.

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Thu Sep 02 2021
4

Very sweet and mellow. Easy listening.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
4

Super Sound from the coolest of African Jazz Cats! Love it

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

Some nice smooth jazz. Again not my style but I couldn't complain about this one and it gets a positive mark.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
4

saffa jazz, super chill, loved it

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Thu Nov 25 2021
4

Had no clue what to expect - loved the jazzy vibe of this album

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Thu Dec 23 2021
4

Well this was quite pleasant! Very soothing. I enjoyed it. Very lyrical music which I enjoyed.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

Kaunista ja kuulasta jazzia. Erityisesti avausbiisi ja nimikkokappale (joka puuttu Spotifysta, prkl) oli hyviä. 4/5

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

Huh, avausraita oli turhan iloinen "rallattelu", mutta sen jälkeen mukavaa kaunista jazzia. Nimikkobiisi olikin sitten ihan mieletön enkä oikeastaan tiedä, oonko kuullut parempaa jazz-tallennetta. Vangitsi meikän täysin. Sääli, että juuri se puuttui spotifysta (ja applelta). Suurin osa levystä ehkä 3/5, mutta pakko nostaa neloseen jo nimikkobiisin takia. Ja oli siellä pari muutakin nelosen ansaitsevaa hetkeä.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

Mitä jazziin tulee, on kasari must ollu aika synkkää fuusiohelvetin aikaa. Tämä taas ei sitä oo, vaan flirttailee aika häikäilemättömästi kuuskytluvun NY-soundin kanssa. Siitähän minä tietty diggaan! 4/5

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Wed Feb 16 2022
4

Nice! Love jazz, this is classic.

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Thu Mar 03 2022
4

Nice chill out music, liked the title track especially.

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Thu Mar 24 2022
4

Great band & music that Ive discovered because 1001 album generator. Thanks.

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Thu Apr 07 2022
4

Þessi er ljómandi, renndi henni tvisvar og gæti hlustað oft aftur. Ekkert lag sem stendur mest upp úr, alveg solid stöff.

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Fri May 06 2022
4

This one is really pretty. I love a good calming set of piano tracks. The title track was definitely the best, but it was all good. Everyone should invest time in piano music now and again. Absolutely worth a listen. Fave track: Water from An Ancient Well

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Mon May 09 2022
4

What it feels like to step into a warm bath.

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Sun May 29 2022
4

5/27/2022 - ALBUM #120 Today's Album: "Water from an Ancient Well" by Various Artists - This is a really smooth and impressive jazz album from a bunch of different artists. There really isn't anything to complain about here. The bassist is consistently laying down a solid groove, the accompanying band is excellent and well balanced, and the soloists are fairly decent. There are some occasional subpar solos, but others make up for it tenfold and beyond. There title track probably has one of the best trumpet solos I have ever heard and after playing trumpet for 10+ years, that should mean something. Overall this is a really impressive jazz album that's great put on in the background or sit down with a good pair of headphones and just enjoy from start to finish. The flow is great, the runtimes of the songs don't feel too long or bloated, and every song strikes a different and unique tone. Give this on a listen if you like some more laid back jazz that still knows how to lay down a funky groove. Highlights: Mandela, Manenberg Revisited, Water from an Ancient Well, The Mountain Score: 8/10 Excellent laid-back 80s jazz

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Mon Jul 04 2022
4

great album from start to finish song for sathima is 10/10 very count basie-esque look forwards to listening to more not too much that really set it apart though 9.1/10

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Mon Jul 04 2022
4

I really liked it especially Mandela. Would listen again and have some songs added to my liked songs now :) 4.3/5

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Wed Jul 13 2022
4

Outstanding album. Superb compositions played and performed extraordinarily well.

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Wed Aug 17 2022
4

Pretty good, but why did Mandela sound like King of the Road? The title track was also really cool but sounded a little familiar - like Blueberry Hill? Song for Sathima had a very beautiful opening 35s and was okay after that (but had some fuzzy sounds, like a radio out of range, when the sax would come in?). Manenberg Revisited has a cool, energetic sound - wish I knew more about its inspiration or message. The Wedding is probably my favorite on the album; sweet and soulful. The Mountain is a nice follow-up to it. Overall, a very cool and smooth sounding jazz album with various musicians who complement each other well.

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Wed Aug 17 2022
4

It's weird, the title track on the album was NOT on Spotify. Had to go onto YouTube to hear it. It's interesting, the music reminded me a bit of Vince Guaraldi. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much. The other instruments really added something to it as well. I don't want to call it "classic" jazz, but it was a straight up jazz album. But definitely more of what you expect in a jazz album. I did enjoy this very much.

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Fri Sep 02 2022
4

Cool, laid-back, smooth, sometimes it got intense, but a very enjoyable album start to finish. The type of music you can play in the background all day. Never heard of this before, so I'll be sure to listen to more from Ibrahim.

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Mon Sep 19 2022
4

What a great discovery. I’ll be coming back to this one regularly!

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Thu Oct 06 2022
4

Really enjoyable jazz album - some fun tunes, some simply beautiful. Awesome bass player. Some glitches perhaps in the recording? At times the bari Sax was so far “behind the beat” (and behind the other horns) as to be distracting, especially on headphones. But I’ll be back.

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Sun Oct 09 2022
4

An album full of nice, mellow, and smooth Jazz. It has a different tone from American Jazz, making it sound more fresh and playful to my ears.

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Fri Oct 14 2022
4

Nice album, I enjoyed it. However, I'm having trouble figuring out why it's on the list - if you read the Wikipedia you would think that its greatest accomplishment is being on the 1001 list itself. Ibrahim has clearly had a long and productive career, and is still going, which is exciting for all of us. If nothing else, it's a new one on my radar to dig into.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

Nice jazz with an interesting style. Enjoyed the first and third track.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

I never listened to African jazz before so I didn't know what to expect, but I ended up liking this record a lot! It is both funky and soothing at times, and overall, very well produced

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Mon Jan 02 2023
4

Give me a blowy right now daddy!

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Thu Jan 12 2023
4

First, love the cover art. Second, I saw the artist, year, and name of the tracks and was expecting one thing; when I clicked play and got something completely different. I feel almost like I got Rick rolled. But OK! Who doesn't like a little surprise swing.

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Mon Jan 16 2023
4

Good melodic accessible jazz

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Fri Jan 20 2023
4

This wasn’t available on Apple Music in the USA, but I found it on YouTube (minus one song which wasn’t available). This was good, I liked this. Being forced to listen to jazz has made me appreciate it more. Overall, this was a really pleasant, serene album.

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Sun Jan 22 2023
4

Started off thinking it's jazz but ended up really enjoying it. I think that may have been because of the sun penetrating through the morning mist, the families traversing the Clapham plains with their dogs, the smell of coffee wafting through the breeze. I have been enlightened to a new world, and Abdullah Ibrahim, you have been my light. Songs are alright too. 3.5

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