Three albums from this legendary South African pianist! African Sketchbook is spare, solo, and incredibly haunting work from Dollar Brand – recorded in Switzerland in the early 70s, and featuring Brand on both flute and piano, playing a set of 14 original composi
tions designed to provide small sketches of his African homeland. The mood of the work is less sprightly than some of his composi
tions for larger groups, and carries with it the tone
of exile, an extra layer of sadness that gives a real emotional depth to the music. Titles include "Salaam – Peace – Hamba Khale", "Slave Bell", "The Stride", "Tokai", "The Dream", and "The Aloe & The Wildrose". Zimbabwe has South African pianist Dollar Brand still going strong into the 80s – as this excellent quartet session will attest! The record features a group with Carolos Ward on alto sax and flute, playing next to Brand's own piano and occasional soprano sax, backed by the bass of Essiet Okun Essiet and the drums of Don Mumford. Tracks are medium length – but filled with the slow-building grace that always makes Brand's work differ majestically from most of his contemporaries. Titles include "Karmat", "Guilty", "Zimbabwe", "For Coltrane, No 11", and "Bombella". Good News From Africa features beautiful duets between pianist Dollar Brand and legendary bassist/
Blue Notes member Johnny Dyani – two great South African jazz musicians who should have recorded more together in a format like this! Brand's open-ended rolling piano lines bring out the best in Dyani's bass – which at this point in his career, was not often heard in such an intimate setting, and was instead often hidden amidst larger more bombastic groupings of avant players – a shift in setting that really brings out some of the more spiritual currents in his music. The record features a version of Brand's excellent "The Pilgrim", plus the tracks "Msunduza", "Ntsikana's Bell", "Good News", and "Moniebah".