Abdullah Ibrahim

Gabriel Bertogg

“The purest thing between heaven and earth is love,” says Abdullah Ibrahim, “and sincerity is the gatekeeper.”

This morsel of metaphysical insight — offered casually but with ringing purpose — arrived near the midpoint of Ibrahim’s session on Afternoon Jazz. The venerable South African pianist, long regarded as both a maestro and a sage, was settling in for an engagement at the Jazz Standard, with his longtime band Ekaya.

Gabriel Bertogg

Along with Wadada Leo Smith’s salute to Rosa Parks, Wynton Marsalis’ soundtrack to Bolden, and Tom McDermott’s take on a Joplin rag.

The National Endowment for the Arts honors the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters with a tribute concert tonight at 8 p.m.

We'll host a live webcast from the John F. Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The concert will be hosted by Jason Moran, with musical direction by Terri Lyne Carrington.

There are four NEA Jazz Masters in the 2019 class: pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim, composer Maria Schneider, critic-historian Stanley Crouch, and pianist and singer-songwriter Bob Dorough, who receives his award posthumously.

Siimon

The National Endowment for the Arts inducts its 2019 Jazz Masters on April 15.

In advance of the main event — a tribute concert at the Kennedy Center, which we’ll livestream here at WBGO — we’re celebrating the new class of honorees in Take Five.

The WBGO Joy of Jazz South African Adventure was one of my highlights of 2017. As soon as we arrived in Johannesburg on Sept. 28, our group of over 50 travelers was treated to a whirlwind tour of the city and the surrounding areas.

Sachyn Mital

Last year, The Checkout and Jazz Night In America attempted to make a little jazz history. We asked the legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim to reimagine, rearrange, and reinterpret music from his early 20s. Back then, he was a member of a short-lived but influential group called The Jazz Epistles, whose other members included trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa,  and saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.


MM Music Agency

Hugh Masekela was an up-and-coming trumpeter, all of 20, when he took an overnight train from Johannesburg to Cape Town to meet a pianist everyone was talking about in South Africa: Abdullah Ibrahim, then known as Dollar Brand. Ibrahim, 25 at the time, was the forward-thinking figure needed to complete South Africa’s greatest bebop band of all time, The Jazz Epistles.