This particular week, we celebrate the Jazz Epistles—South Africa’s near-mythic bebop band—with two electrifying evenings of music co-presented by the planet Music Institute. Each night, superstar pianist Abdullah Ibrahim will be joined on stage by his band, Ekaya, along with special guests to play in honor of the revolutionary group he helped form, along with in memory of the late great trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who recently passed away.
The Jazz Epistles were South Africa’s first black jazz band, pioneering a brand new musical form influenced by bebop along with traditional South African music. Inspired by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the troupe formed when the Dollar Brand Trio through Cape Town––including pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (“Dollar Brand”), bassist Johnny Gertze, along with drummer Makaya Ntshoko––combined talents with alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, the late Masekela, along with trombonist Jonas Gwangwa. Their first along with only album, 1959’s Jazz Epistle, Verse 1 brought them international acclaim. However, following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre along with the increasing oppression of the apartheid government (which included the prohibition of jazz music), the band was forced to disband as its members emigrated to Europe along with North America. Two of them, Ibrahim along with Masekela, would likely go on to become jazz stars in their own right.
In This particular series of illustrations, artist Nathan Gelgud pays homage to the Jazz Epistles pioneering bebop spirit.
The Jazz Epistles comes to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House This particular Wed, Apr 18, along with great tickets are still available for of which evening’s performance.