Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Abdullah Ibrahim, RFH

The 70-year-old South African pianist comes to grace the RFH with his sublime playing. And grace is the right word, because everything he does is imbued with a permeating peacefulness. A true jazz master, only very occasionally did anything as base as a tune sully proceedings. But somehow I felt I could listen to his playing and understand precisely what the song was about. The drummer and young bass player provided excellent support, although at times I felt the drummer was a little too busy, almost flashy, for the auspicious atmosphere.

The problem for the critic, when reviewing such an established great, is that any criticisms he may have more about him than the criticised. Once an artist has been playing at this level for over 50 years, they become, more or less, beyond criticism – it’s a take it or leave it situation. But if I was to be honest, I’d say that it was perhaps too peaceful, and I may have dozed off towards the end. Luckily any residue of stillness I might have reserved was rapidly wiped away by a quick visit to the late showing of Star Wars : Revenge of the Utter Shite.

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