NY based Iraqi-American trumpeter ElSaffar in an emotionally charged work that invokes ancient Iraqi musical traditions and frames them in a modern jazz setting.
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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PI 24
Squidco Product Code: 9163
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Amir ElSaffar-trumpet, santoor, vocals
Rudresh Mahanthappa-alto saxophone
Zafer Tawil-violin, oud, dumbek
Tareq Abboushi-buzuq, frame drum
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1. Menba' (Maqam Bayat) / Jourjina 11:59
2. Hemayoun 8:46
3. Shatt al-Arab (Maqam Hadidi) 6:50
4. Flood (Maqam Hijaz Kar) 7:33
5. Awj Intro 2:11
6. Khosh Reng (Maqam Awj) 7:49
7. Lami Intro 3:26
8. Diaspora (Maqam Lami) 5:26
9. Blood and Ink (Maqam Awshar) / Aneen (Maqam Mukhalif) 11:54
10. Blues in E Half-Flat 5:29
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Cultural Musics from Around the World
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"Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar put his New York career on hold six years ago to immerse himself in the music of his father's ancestral past, the Iraqi Maqam. Already an accomplished jazz and classical trumpeter, having performed with esteemed artists such as Cecil Taylor, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, and Daniel Barenboim, and having won two international jazz competitions, ElSaffar traveled to Iraq, throughout the Middle East and to Europe, where he pursued masters who could impart to him this centuries-old oral tradition. He quickly became versed in Maqam, and learned to play the santoor (Iraqi hammered dulcimer) and to sing, and he now leads the only ensemble in the US performing Iraqi Maqam, Safaafir. He has also created new techniques for the trumpet that enable microtones and ornaments that are characteristic to Arabic music but are not typically heard on a trumpet.
Now, ElSaffar has turned his attention back to Jazz, and is approaching it with an Iraqi/Arabic bent. His Two Rivers Suite, which has been described by BBC World as "harrowing to absorb; full of as much beauty as pain," is an emotionally charged work that invokes ancient Iraqi musical traditions and frames them in a modern Jazz setting. The compositions are based on Iraqi Maqam melodies, each of which is believed to have a unique spiritual essence and to contain an aspect of Iraq's history and society. These rich melodies, which often contain non-western tunings, are set to heavy grooves, free jazz-like ensemble playing, and multi-layered sound textures.
Amir ElSaffar and his sextet, which includes Rudresh Mahanthappa (saxophone), Nasheet Waits (drums), Carlo DeRosa (bass), Tareq Abboushi (buzuq and percussion), and Zaafir Tawil (oud, violin and dumbek), meld styles and seamlessly cross-pollinate the languages of ancient and modern, East and West. Elsaffar's compositions are some of the first in the history of jazz to make use of Arabic modality and its non-western tunings.
ElSaffar's Two Rivers is a powerful emotional journey through Iraq's glorious and tragic past and present, and it cries Amir's personal struggle, his feelings as an Iraqi-American watching his father's homeland in turmoil and destruction. "-Pi Recordings
• Show Bio for Nasheet Waits
"Nasheet Waits, drummer/music educator, is a New York native. His interest in playing the drums was encouraged by his father, legendary percussionist, Frederick Waits. Over the course of his career, Freddie Waits played with such legendary artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, and countless others.
Nasheet's college education began at Morehouse in Atlanta, GA, where he majored in Psychology and History. Deciding that music would be his main focus, he continued his college studies in New York at Long Island University, where he graduated with honors, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Music. While attending Long Island University, Waits studied privately with renowned percussionist, Michael Carvin. Carvin's tutelage provided a vast foundation upon which Waits added influences from his father, as well as mentor Max Roach. It was Max that first gave Nasheet's formidable talent international spotlight, hiring him as a member of the famed percussion ensemble M'BOOM. One highlight of Nasheet's tenure with M'BOOM was the live concert performance of M'BOOM with special guests Tony Williams and Ginger Baker.
Nasheet's talent came to the attention of reedman Antonio Hart, who asked Waits to originate the percussion chair of his first quintet. Waits remained a standing member of Antonio's various ensembles, recording three albums and touring nationally and internationally in noted venues, jazz festivals, as well as live television and radio performances. Nasheet remained a member of Antonio's group through 1998.
Most recently Nasheet has been a member of Andrew Hill's various bands, Jason Moran's Bandwagon, and Fred Hersch's trio. As an originating member of pianist Jason Moran's Bandwagon, Jason, bassist Tarus Mateen, and Nasheet have been deemed, "the most exciting rhythm section in jazz" by JazzTimes, The 2001 recording "Black Stars" with the Bandwagon, featuring Sam Rivers was named the "Best CD of 2001" in (Jazz Times, Jan 2002) and "The New York Times".Nasheet's recording and performing discography is a veritable who's who in Jazz, boasting stints with jazz notables such as Geri Allen, Mario Bauza, Hamiett Bluiett, Abraham Burton, Ron Carter, Marc Cary, Steve Coleman, Stanley Cowell, Orrin Evans, Stefon Harris, Andrew Hill, Bill Lee, Jackie McLean, The Mingus Big Band, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Greg Osby, Joshua Redman, Vanessa Rubin, Antoine Roney, Wallace Roney, Jacky Terrason, Bunky Green, and Mark Turner. Waits has recorded and toured extensively in Africa, Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United Stat
Amidst his performing, recording and touring activity, Nasheet teaches private lessons to youth and adults, stressing a personal approach to the drums and music. He has been heralded for his musicality and creativity by such virtuosos as Ed Thigpen, Max Roach, Andrew Hill, and Stanley Cowell . True to his personal philosophy of the necessity to balance Tradition and Modernism, Waits collaborates and performs regularly with a wide range of artists. He remains dedicated to exploring his role and creative path in music."-Nasheet Waits Website (http://www.nasheetwaits.com/biography.htm)
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