Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Amir El Safir @ Jazz Standard 2/21/12

Excellent!  World meets jazz and makes it new and exciting.  It was one of those shows where there was nothing else, just music.  I forgot where I was and immersed myself in the music.  The instruments were awesome.  The more traditional jazz instruments were the phenomenal upright bass, Tyshawn Sorey blowing me away on drums, Amir on trumpet, and santur on tenor sax.  The Middle Eastern instruments included buzuq, oud, santur (like a hammered dulcimer), and some kind of hourglass drum with a metal head.

They did pieces from the Two Rivers Suite as well as something else.  There was a lot of diversity in the music.

Amir ElSaffar - trumpet, santur
Ole Mathisen - tenor and soprano saxophone
Tareq Abboushi - buzuq
Zafer Tawil - oud, percussion
Carlo DeRosa - bass
Tyshawn Sorey - drums

The Iraqi-American musician Amir ElSaffar is at the forefront of that group of creative thinkers - including pianist Vijay Iyer and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa - who are incorporating the traditional musical styles of their cultural backgrounds with modern sensibilities. Whether playing trumpet in a jazz context, or singing and playing the 70-string santur in an Iraqi setting, ElSaffar brings a depth of emotion and authenticity to his music that has intrigued fellow musicians and enchanted audiences around the world. His latest recording, Inana (Pi Recordings), "avoids the sensationalistic and touristic in favor of the sincere and investigatory, searching for a common or at least consonant elements of the vocabularies of jazz and classical Arabic music." (John Corbett, DownBeat, four and a half stars) 

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