Abdullah Ibrahim, South African Jazz Titan, Returns to Los Angeles

The Jazz Epistles, South Africa’s first black jazz group, took Cape Town by storm in the late 1950’s with their debut record Jazz Epistle Verse 1. Inspired by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the groundbreaking ensemble played modern jazz with a distinctly African twist. The septet featured the young Hugh Masekela on trumpet as well as the pianist Dollar Brand, who would later change his name to Abdullah Ibrahim. The Jazz Epistles were short-lived, breaking up shortly after their first and only album. Masekela and Ibrahim would both suffer exile during apartheid rule in the 1960’s, but go on to illustrious and amazing careers.

Ibrahim moved from South Africa to Europe in 1962. A turning point in his career came in February 1963, when Ibrahim’s wife-to-be, Sathima Bea Benjamin,…

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