From the fine blog, really one of the best reasons for blogging to exist, Africa Is a Country, the poster pulls a taste of Robin Kelley’s essential biography* of Thelonious Monk, When Monk met Dollar Brand.
“Monk was African royalty.” Dr. Ibrahim once told me. Before this confirmation, before I could ever contextualize Monk at all, let alone smartly, I resonated so deeply with Monk’s sound, and, with what I guess I would call the impact of how Monk disturbed the air, that it was for me an experience with a source somewhere beyond mere renegade bebop.
Still, my own context was removed from first, second, third hand. I like Tiny Bradshaw, but I’m unable to even imagine the context of one of his sides hitting a township jukebox, where, at a minimum, it was Africans vibing to soul jumpin’ out. What goes out, comes around, and comes back down.
It is impossible to force the hand of someone as masterful as Ibrahim.
Yes, Thank you for this sometimes hidden, yet always-the-case, fact.
The review strikes me as evidence the reviewer has really dealt with his experience of the music. This means for me the review is the exception to the usual report about how, coincidentally enough, the artist’s work amazingly came to react perfectly to the reviewer’s agenda! Very often, when this is so, it sounds to me like the reviewer didn’t listen deeply. And this isn’t because a review is required to escape the reviewer’s subjectivity; it’s because the reviewer gives away their position by, for example, saying the music is “too sober,” or, “unfortunately revisits old themes,” or, my favorite, “he hardly touches the piano.”
Interview by Marc Myers at JazzWax, (April 11, 2011)
JW: Your new album, Sotho Blue, has a beautiful, soulful feel. Where did you compose many of the songs? AI: We try to be as sincere as possible in our daily lives and Abdullah I our music. Compositions have no fixed location or time limits.
I chuckled at this question and answer. It brought back generous memories.
Certain common assumptions of the interviewer, (maybe of most interviewers,) sometimes may need to be transformed. Even a sophisticated imagining of what the artist and his or her process is, and is about, may fly by the actualities of sound creation. Obviously the circumstances may vary, but I chuckled because Dr. Ibrahim’s answer was so pointedly objective.
Thanks for sharing your moments with us, Mr. Myers.