Coming Home

There is no question that pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, 65, still has the touch.

Recorded live in December 1997 at the Spier's Estate in Cape Town, South Africa (where Ibrahim was born Dollar Brand), Ibrahim's latest offering, Cape Town Revisited, features some excellent writing and arrangements.

Ibrahim's backing band features bassist Marcus McLaurine, drummer George Gray and guest trumpeter Feya Faku, whose clarion sound resonates through "Tintinyana" (RealAudio excerpt), "Tsakwe-Royal Blue" and "Soweto."

For the most part the trio play it loose and unpredictable, allowing the music to flow with a relaxed continuity. Exploration is woven into the arrangements, with the material less about chord changes than rhythmic textures, especially on "Damara Blue" (RealAudio excerpt), dedicated to the people of Namibia.

Ibrahim dazzles on "Someday Soon Sweet Samba" and "Cape Town to Congo Square," which features two movements that conjure an old-fashioned street party.

The centerpieces of the recording, though, are the dramatic and disarming "Eleventh Hour" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Water From an Ancient Well." It is an ancient well, indeed, from which Ibrahim continues to draw inspiration.