South African jazz pioneer to revisit iconic catalogue in Vancouver


The Jazz Epistles were South Africa’s first jazz band to record an album and achieve international success. Blending the sound of township dancehalls with American jazz, the music of The Jazz Epistles was both innovative and brave.

Abdullah Ibrahim
Ibrahim (left) and Blanchard. Photo: Chan Centre

On February 18, iconic keyboardist and Jazz Epistle alumnus Abdullah Ibrahim will take the Chan Centre stage to perform work from his group’s landmark album, Jazz Epistle Verse 1.

Joined by four-time Grammy-winning New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard, The Jazz Epistles will revisit Ibrahim’s apartheid-era masterworks.

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 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, the country’s apartheid government forced The Jazz Epistles into exile and the sextet fled separately to Europe and North America.

After being discovered by the late Duke Ellington, Ibrahim was signed to Frank Sinatra’s record label and quickly achieved international recognition.

“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,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “Abdullah Ibrahim is one of the world’s great jazz pioneers and an important figure of hope and perseverance in the face of oppression.”

Chan Centre presents The Jazz Epistles: Abdullah Ibrahim
with guest Terence Blanchard

Where: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (6265 Crescent Road)
When: Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 7:00pm

For more information, visit

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Adam Nanji is the Content Manager at Vancouver Is Awesome. When he’s not scouring the city for awesome news, he performs as ¼ of local band, Belle Game. Adam grew up in Vancouver and earned a degree in Cultural Studies with a double minor in Communication and Gender Studies from McGill University. He’s passionate about Vancouver’s social issues and local art. You’ll typically find him standing on a corner, contemplating where to eat next. Tell him what you think is awesome: