This is one of Abdullah Ibrahim's most colorful band recordings. With a 12-piece group that includes altoist Carlos Ward, trombonist Craig Harris and bassist Cecil McBee along with some lesser-known names, Ibrahim performs eight folklike originals that pay tribute to his life growing up in South Africa. "The Homecoming Song," "Anthem for the New Nation" and especially "The Wedding" (a beautiful hymn) are particularly memorable.
For this excellent date, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim performs eight of his compositions with a particularly strong group of players: trombonist Robin Eubanks, John Stubblefield on tenor and flute, Horace Alexander Young switching between soprano, alto and piccolo, Howard Johnson on tuba, baritone and trumpet, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Brian Abrahams. But more important than the individual players are the colorful ensembles and the frequently memorable compositions. Highlights include "African River," "Sweet Samba," "Duke 88" and a beautiful version of "The Wedding".
This two-fer combines a pair of trumpeter Blue Mitchell's late-career albums for the Impulse! label: 1977's African Violet and Summer Soft. A consummate hard bopper, Mitchell experimented with soul- and funk-jazz as the '70s wore on and these albums are no exception. Funky but lyrical, muscular yet still swinging with a modern jazz intensity, these albums feature Mitchell playing against small as well as large ensembles, including orchestral strings on African Violet. Reflecting the somewhat commercial approach to many jazz productions of the time with electric guitars and synthesizers in the mix, they are nonetheless worthy, hard to find recordings and it's great to have them together on one disc.