145

Amir ElSaffar: Two Rivers

By

Sign in to view read count
Amir ElSaffar: Two Rivers This exploration of Iraqi, American and Arab sensibilities, rooted in the lands and cultures bordering the Tigris and Euphrates rivers—the two flowing sources of the CD's title—is deeply affecting, musically adventurous and provocative.

American-born ElSaffar, a talented New York-based trumpeter/composer, ventured to Iraq six years ago to study the music of his father's country of heritage. He returned to the US with a working knowledge of its centuries-old musical Maqam tradition, rich in emotional and storytelling content as well as unusual technical structures. With the war in Iraq and tensions between American and Arab cultures, it seems the right time for a musical project that aims to cross boundaries and give insight into the historical and current experiences of the Iraqi people.

There is much to hear. Maqam music takes many forms and ElSaffar has done a masterful job incorporating his studies in Iraq and growing up as the son of divergent cultures—American and Iraqi, East and West, ancient and modern—into the Western musical legacy of jazz that he knows so well.

ElSaffar plays the stringed santoor, trumpet and does vocals. He's joined in his journey by exceptional allies, themselves the progeny of diverse cultures and personal and musical legacies: Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto saxophone), Zafer Tawil (violin, oud and dumbek), Tareq Abboushi (buzuk and frame drum), Carlo DeRosa (bass) and drummer Nasheet Waits.

"Flood," marked by tension between bass line and trumpet melody, delves into the creative and destructive capabilities of these "two rivers," which flood annually and "both nurtured and destroyed the world's first cities (as ElSaffar explains in his useful liner notes). The blistering "Blood and Ink memorializes the ransacking of Baghdad in 1258, ending its golden age.

Other compositions have more to relate but let this evocative music, swinging between harmony and dissonance and streaming through unfamiliar tributaries of sound, speak (and sing) for itself.

Track Listing: Menba

Personnel: Amir ElSaffar: santoor, vocals, trumpet; Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Zafer Tawil: violin, oud, dumbek; Tareq Abboushi: buzuk, frame drum; Carlo DeRosa: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Pi Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "In Movement" CD/LP/Track Review In Movement
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 4, 2016
Read "Perch Hen Brock & Rain/Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere" CD/LP/Track Review Perch Hen Brock & Rain/Live @ The Jazz Happening Tampere
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Inspired" CD/LP/Track Review Inspired
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!