This past April, The Checkout and Jazz Night In America attempted to make a little jazz history. We asked the legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim to reimagine, rearrange, and reinterpret music from his early 20s. Back then, he was a member of a short-lived but influential group called The Jazz Epistles, whose other members included trumpeter Hugh Masekela and saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.
The band released one album, Jazz Epistle Verse 1. In South Africa, the backstory of this 1959 recording is fairly well-known, but it still remains a mystery to most American jazz fans. As Jazz Night In America heads into its fourth season, The Checkout is proud to collaborate and give this music its proper due, first airing the concert we recorded at the Town Hall on April 27, South Africa Freedom Day.