An amazing thing happened the other day. I caught wind that my favorite musician, and friend, Abdullah Ibrahim, had released a new recording, Bombella. But, there was a rub: it wasn’t available anywhere nearby as one of those old fashioned compact discs! One could download mp3s from Amazon or eMusic. I tracked the record to the label, Intuition (Germany.) Yet, it wasn’t out at HMV-UK, or FNAC-Paris.
The desire for instant gratification “at the highest fidelity” being what it is, I went back to check out the link that popped first on google, to an outfit called soulseduction.com. There indeed was the record in downloadable form, in mp3, and, could it be? wave files. Pure digital. Was soulseduction a scam? A pirate haven?
As it turned out, no, soulseduction is a download-only distributor in Switzerland that had licensed Intuition’s catalog and new releases. Bingo! Quick international transaction and 800mb of music was on its way through the wonder of the internet. This isn’t the wave of the future—only an odd type of muso will take the trouble of downloading and burning full digital audio. Still, there the new recording was playing through the monitors after 45 minutes. $19.00.
Let me offer the briefest of reviews: a spectacular record.
Consider its context: Dr. Ibrahim is the most sophisticated and creative musician the continent of Africa has produced. Africa’s music tradition goes back about 50,000 years. Ibrahim has made tens of records during his visionary journey to extend that tradition. Almost every recording is very very good. Bombella exceeds the implied high standard. My guess is that in a month or so I will feel this record is as good as anything he has released.
composer: Abdullah Ibrahim
interpreter: Abdullah Ibrahim
conductor: Steve Gray
orchestra/ensemble: WDR Big Band Köln
Abdullah Ibrahim: piano / Paul Shigihara: guitar / John Goldsby: bass / Hans Dekker: drums / Andy Haderer: trumpet / Wim Both: trumpet / Rob Bruynen: trumpet / John Marshall: trumpet / Klaus Osterloh: trumpet / Ludwig Nuss: trombone / Dave Horler: trombone / Bernt Laukamp: trombone / Mattis Cederberg: bass trombone / Heiner Wiberny: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet / Karolina Strassmayer: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet / Olivier Peters: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet / Paul Heller: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet / Jens Neufang: baritone saxophone, flute, clarinet / Steve Gray: conductor, arranger