The sounds of The Jazz Epistles coming to The Chan Centre

Abdullah Ibrahim

This weekend experience a moment of jazz history as the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts presents The Jazz Epistles: Abdullah Ibrahim with guest Terence Blanchard in a rare tribute concert, on Sunday February 18. 

In the 1950s South Africa’s The Jazz Epistles were the hip, young things of the jazz scene.  Now more than a half-century on from their landmark album Jazz Epistle Verse 1, the Jazz Epistle alumnus Abdullah Ibrahim revisits the legendary repertoire of his historic South African ensemble.

“Abdullah Ibrahim is one of the world’s great jazz pioneers and an important figure of hope and perseverance in the face of oppression,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “While apartheid divided South Africa, a brave group of black artists, The Jazz Epistles, were creating brilliant jazz at a time when it was forbidden. We proudly celebrate their talent and achievements as we welcome Ibrahim alongside a fellow influential force in jazz, Terence Blanchard, to our stage for the first time.”

The Jazz Epistles were South Africa’s first black jazz band to record an album and break onto the world stage back. Six young artists blended the sound of township dancehalls with American jazz, the music of The Jazz Epistles was both innovative and brave. In 1959, The Jazz Epistles recorded their first album. Though only 500 copies were initially distributed, it was later recognized as a groundbreaking recording. Following the institution of apartheid in South Africa The Jazz Epistles were forced into exile and the sextet fled separately to Europe and North America. Two members – Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela – became music giants in their own right.

After being discovered by the late Duke Ellington, Ibrahim was signed to Frank Sinatra’s record label and quickly achieved international recognition. Ibrahim went on to release an impressive discography, playing with big jazz names such as Max Roach, Carlos Ward, Randy Weston, and many others.

Four-time Grammy-winning New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard, considered one of the most prolific jazz musicians, with a career steeped in acclaim and spanning more than four decades, joins Ibrahim on the stage at, backed by his band Ekaya also joining the bill on Sunday night at The Chan Centre.

The Jazz Epistles: Abdullah Ibrahim with guest Terence Blanchard takes place 7pm, Sunday February 18, 2018 in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC.  Ticket holders are welcomed to attend a free pre-show talk at 6:15pm in The Chan Centre’s Royal Bank Cinema.  

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