Distinguished pianist and internationally acclaimed musician Abdullah Ibrahim and his band Ekaya performed two concerts last week. Picture: John Lekotla
Cape Town – Distinguished pianist and internationally acclaimed musician Abdullah Ibrahim and his band Ekaya performed two concerts in support of former president Thabo Mbeki’s vision of a library, where the materials of African liberation leaders, including his own, will be collected.

The Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library is a project spearheaded by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and Unisa that will make former president Mbeki’s documents, papers, and materials that span more than 15 years available to the public. It will become a “living library” and museum.

The band performed at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg last Wednesday and at the Life Church in Cape Town on Friday.

Concert producer Lupi Ngcayisa described Ibrahim as a consummate professional who has dominated world stages and headlined premium jazz events and concerts for almost 60 years.

“He is one of the few remaining jazz legends who laid the foundation of what we have all come to know as jazz,” Ngcayisa said.

For the show, attention was paid to every detail, including specific lighting and sound.

Experts had to be brought in, he said, and “no stone was left unturned to ensure the success of the performance”.

“The Fazioli piano was an obvious choice as it’s the leader in the market,” Ngcayisa said.

“He gave a stellar performance in Johannesburg, but Cape Town crowned it all as it’s his place of birth in which he connects with his childhood.

“You felt his energy in the room. It was almost like a rebirth of sorts after a solid two hours on stage with no breaks in between.

“He was still reluctant to leave the stage, and he continued commanding his United States-based band Ekaya to play some more,” Ngcayisa said.

He said the audience was “a beautiful representation of the racial diversity that was the fibre of South Africa”.

“A convergence of the young and old gathered to celebrate an icon, rendering the atmosphere sprightly. Life Church Sea Point was filled to capacity.

“Ibrahim enthralled the audiences with his hypnotic and delicate delivery,” Ngcayisa said.

Cape Town-based jazz musicians Nomfundo Xaluva, Mandisi Dyantyis and Siyabonga Njica attended.

Ibrahim recently released an album with his band, his first in four years.

The album, titled The Balance and released in late June, was recorded over the course of a day at RAK Studios in London in November last year.

Cape Times