Jazz @ The Chan

You can lift your hat way up when Nelson Mandela calls you the ‘Mozart’ of South Africa. The recipient of Mandela’s praise, stacks of awards and the respect of musicians across the world is pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, and he’s coming to the Chan Centre on February 18th.

Ibrahim – who now divides his time between New York and Capetown, his birthplace – will be appearing with another remarkably talented musician: trumpeter and five time Grammy winner, Terence Blanchard. The duo, and Ibrahim’s Ekaya ensemble, will be presenting music from The Jazz Epistles – a 1950’s coming together of two South African jazz bands, both acolytes of Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers.

Ibrahim will be giving a pre-show talk at The Chan – From a Jazz Messenger to a Jazz Epistle – moderated by A-Trane radio host, Nou Dadoun, and focused on 1950’s and 60’s jazz in the South African context.

Over the last 20 years, the Bing-Thom designed Chan Centre has been home to a number of jazz performers eager to sample the hall’s legendary acoustics. It’s not in every building that you can find a 25 ton canopy – crafted from wood, cork and steel – that can be cranked up or down in order to accommodate the music at hand. The Chan Centre has hosted Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Elvis Costello, Dianne Reeves, Renee Rosnes, Slide Hampton, Ornette Coleman, Trombone Shorty…

In 2016, Branford Marsalis came visiting with Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis and Justin Faulkner, in celebration of their new release:  Four MFs Playin’ Tunes. In 2014, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra gave a characteristically fantastic performance with the following set list.

Best of Blue Note:

  1. Senor Blues
  2. Inner Urge
  3. Infant Eyes
  4. The Moontrane
  5. Dorham’s Epitaph/Short Story
  6. Fee Fi Fo Fum
  7. Appointment In Ghana
  8. House Of Jade


  1. Weary Blues
  2. Jumpin’ At The Woodside


Musician after musician comments on the unique hall that Thom built. Mexican-American songstress, Lila Downs, a repeat visitor, explains the appeal in the Chan’s acoustics: “It makes all the difference. It brings down your guard, and as a vocalist, you feel like you can really express all the dynamics of your instrument. You can use the softer side of your voice and the more intimate approach to the songs. And the audience is focused on the music. The musicians really enjoy it because they can hear all the subleties in their technique, and the emotion is quite different. There are veery few halls that are perfect acoustically, but the Chan Centre is certainly one of them.”

Architect Bing Thom talks about the creation of the hall.

Here is more information about Ibrahim and Blanchard’s upcoming concert and the wide range of offerings – jazz and otherwise – at The Chan.

Upcoming Chan Concerts

Written by Elizabeth Newton


Header: Abdullah Ibrahim Black Major Shanna Jones Photographer.




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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton