Abdullah Ibrahim: Water From an Ancient Well


Water From an Ancient Well


Water From an Ancient Well (TIPTOE 888812-2)

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Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) (piano),

Dick Griffin (trombone), Carlos Ward (flute), Ricky Ford (tenor sax), Charles Davis (baritone sax), David Williams (bass), Ben Riley (drums)


Composed by Abdullah Ibrahim


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 1985


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

This CD's careless packaging is unfortunate. If not for the interior notes, you might not learn from the jewel case except for a mention in mice print on the back that this is Abdullah Ibrahim's "Ekaya" group, one of the most significant if short-lived bands of the 1980s. Nor would you glean from the personnel list that trombonist Dick Griffin, a forceful soloist and integral to Ekaya's overall sound texture, is even a participant.

All that aside, the CD features some of Ibrahim's most noteworthy compositions. Only on the title track, however all of 12 minutes long does the group get to stretch out and fully show what it was capable of in a concert or club setting. From Ibrahim's enclosed poem:

          water from an ancient well
          oh beautiful Africa
          that's where I'll always dwell

Ibrahim's piano leads off with a gospel-flavored solo meditation, followed by a beautifully harmonized treatment of the hymn-like theme by the horns and flute. The solos by Davis, Griffin, Ford, Ward, and Williams, in that order, are each highly expressive, emotionally charged and craftily developed. The reprise of the theme is elevated by Griffin's improvised commentary over the melody. Hats off to Rudy Van Gelder (so what else is new?) for faithfully capturing Ekaya's sound. LP or CD, Rudy was the undisputed master.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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