A three-concert series featuring South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim is the highlight of new additions to the 2015 Montreal Jazz Festival announced today.

Abdullah Ibrahim (photo provided by the Montreal Jazz Festival)
Abdullah Ibrahim (photo provided by the Montreal Jazz Festival)
Ibrahim's last Canadian performance was at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2012. That festival describes his music as a “deeply soulful blend of gospel, kwela, and Ellington-inspired jazz that is elegant in its simplicity” and his compositions as “deeply lyrical”. Ibrahim was mentored by Duke Ellington in the 1960s and early 70s, and played with the Ellington Orchestra. In the 1970s, he founded the Cape Jazz sound: his music was used to support the black revolt against apartheid.

At Guelph, he played solo piano: an hour-long, uninterrupted piece, flowing between standards and his own works, but always beautiful and compelling.

At Montreal, he will play a solo show in the intimate Salle de Gésu on Thursday, July 2; and on July 3 will appear there with his Mukashi Trio (piano, cello, and flute/clarinet/saxophone), a chamber jazz group which released a well-received CD in 2014. “Mukashi” means “Once Upon A Time” in Japanese.

On July 4, Ibrahim will present his longstanding project, Ekaya, which he first launched in 1983. It's a septet, with tenor, alto, and baritone sax, trombone, and bass, drums, and piano. The Montreal jazz festival describes it as “an encounter between both instruments and cultures, between the oral musical tradition of South Africa and the vibrant legacies of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.”

Other 2015 Montreal jazz festival jazz concerts announced today:

  • June 26: guitarist Al Di Meola's Elegant Gypsy and More Electric Tour
  • June 26: The vocal ensemble A Filetta, together with trumpeter Paolo Fresu and bandoneonist Daniele di Bonaventura, performing from the ECM album Mistico Mediterraneo. Fresu will open the evening with a duet with Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella.
  • June 27: trumpeter Chris Botti, with romantic melodies from his latest album, Impressions.
  • July 2: vocalist Madeleine Peyroux, mixing blues, country, jazz, and pop with her new album, Keep Me In Your Heart For A While.

Others announced last December were:

  • June 26: Brazilian vocalist Bebel Gilberto
  • June 27: The Stanley Clarke Band, with Clarke's new album, Up: high-voltage jazz fusion with a profusion of funky melodies.
  • June 28: The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman
  • June 30: Snarky Puppy, introducing their new album (to be released in April)
  • June 30: accordionist Richard Galliano with guitarist Sylvain Luc, playing a Hommage à Édith Piaf
  • July 1: British pianist/vocalist Jamie Cullum, with selections from his new jazz standards album, Interlude: Dizzy Gillespie to Ray Charles, Billie Holiday to Nina Simone.
  • July 3: vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater with trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
  • July 3: Eliane Elias, Made in Brazil with Marc Johnson, Rubens De La Corte and Rafael Barata
  • July 4: Battle of the Big Bands: the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra against the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

This year's Montreal Jazz Festival will be held from Friday, June 26 to Sunday, July 5, 2014 (overlapping the Ottawa Jazz Festival by five days). The full program will be announced in April/May.

   – Alayne McGregor