Roughly in this picture of the two of us, Abdullah Ibrahim is the age I am now. Twenty years ago, on the sidewalk in Middlebury, Vermont.
Although we’re no longer in touch*, my beloved friend Abdullah Ibrahim, turn 75 today. He is, to put it simply and also grandly, the deepest musician the continent of Africa has produced so far. To say “so far” with the musical Africa, is to imply a long period of time: the expressly musical sound world of humans may well have begun in Africa many hundreds of thousands of years ago.
As a composer, bandleader, instrumentalist, he has over a 50+ year career created an immense body of work aimed by his deep intelligence at the receptive human heart. This is a very serious operation! For him, music comes to the manifest world from its origin in the divine vibratory chain of becoming. So, his intention attends to the possibility presented by the sensitive and receptive listener. Well, this is as I have heard it. From this, the possibility of transmission is realized. So, for example, his people’s music synched up with his people’ struggles, and, struck THE chord.
Dr. Ibrahim’s capabilities extend beyond music. He is an educator in diverse fields that include history, martial arts, nutrition, and other healing arts. He is a poet and a world class raconteur. When he returned to Africa after its liberation, it once again became his home base.
In 1996, I commenced a web site, Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mantra Modes, devoted to his artistry, and six years later stopped updating it when his own official web site came online. At the Mantra Modes link there’s lots of content, including some recollections evoked by our brief association.
On the nogutsnoglory studios blog I have, today, delineated a very concise recommendation of recordings.
*he emailed me this year a single sentence: “Is that you?” Given a history of his providing me with learning opportunities, I couldn’t take it as just a simple question! I give my self low marks for how I handled those opportunities way-back-when, yet, nevertheless, I have retained some of the threads. His impact on me remains great, and I remain grateful.