Just announced!

Rivers of Sound, Amir ElSaffar’s 17-piece orchestra’s double-LP, Not Two,
is now out on New Amsterdam Records!

Rivers Rivers of Sound: Not Two release performance recommended by New York Times  as one of the best live jazz shows in NYC:

In Rivers of Sound, Mr. ElSaffar’s 17-piece ensemble, rhythm is a load-bearing vehicle, steadily carrying his compositions across land and sea. The pulse changes hands often, Mr. ElSaffar’s trumpet working in an exchange with the tabla and the guitar and the buzuq, a stringed instrument from the eastern Mediterranean. Rivers of Sound brings together virtuosos from Middle Eastern, South Asian and Western jazz traditions, and its music has a liquid quality: It’s full of momentum, but not in the way of a single moving thing. Instead, it seems to flow and spill across bounds.”
– Giovanni Rusonello, The New York Times

    ★ Rivers of Sound flows in a flux of ever-shifting colors, with bold brass fanfares giving way to classically Middle Eastern sounding strings and sinuous reed melodies evolving patiently over unhurried, swinging rhythms that are accented by the dieting tonality of frame drum and dumbek…with Not Two [ElSaffar] has moved beyond building bridges; his music has become the river.” – Downbeat Magazine.

a towering statement of purpose—wise to many traditions, even while it remains accessible to anyone” – Pitchfork Magazine.

Come hear the band’s LP release performance on August 4th at the Newport Jazz Festival 2017


Rivers of Sound is a large ensemble of instrumentalists from Western and Middle Eastern traditions, exploring the confluences of a musical language that transcends notions of tradition and style. In performing Not Two, an original composition by Amir ElSaffar, each musician interacts with the group through both improvised and composed material to create a novel composite sound.

Amir ElSaffar Unleashes a River of Sound at Lincoln Center (New York Music Daily)

“Refrains build and fall, textured timbres churn, trance like waves swell and crest. The rivers motif is fitting — there’s something liquid about these breaking waves of sound, a liquidity to these cascading drops of simple repeating melodic fragments.”
– The National, Abu Dhabi.

For information on the Rivers of Sound Orchestra, please click here. To find out where you can hear Amir live, click here.

New review of Rivers of Sound’s international premiere at NYU Abu Dhabi, featured in The National:

ElSaffar presented the international premiere of his ambitious Rivers of Sound Large Ensemble, a genre-blending 17-piece group combining both jazz and Arab instruments…it’s an almighty river, full of twists and turns, peaks and troughs — and gushing waterfalls of sound.

Blending scales from the Iraqi maqam tradition with jazz ornamentation, melodies and rhythms intersect, criss-crossing musical lines dancing like brushstrokes across a broad canvas. Often strings and ouds pluck out a bedrock of repetitive figures, while a row of brass soar overhead, and an engine room of an extended rhythm section drives at the back…ElSaffar strolls the stage directing his musicians, signalling solos and changes, playing the role of both composer, conductor and star.

Refrains build and fall, textured timbres churn, trancelike waves swell and crest. The rivers motif is fitting — there’s something liquid about these breaking waves of sound, a liquidity to these cascading drops of simple repeating melodic fragments.” – The National

Rivers Of Sound Spring 2016 Tour

Amir ElSaffar and his 17-piece improvising orchestra Rivers Of Sound have returned from their April Tour with performances in Philadelphia (Kimmel Center), Cleveland (Cleveland Museum of Art), and Abu Dhabi (NYU Abu Dhabi).

Rivers of Sound presents 17 musicians from a broad spectrum of traditions, from Iraqi maqam to American jazz. Using resonance as its governing principle, the music incorporates elements of maqam modal music of the Middle East with jazz and other contemporary musical practices to create a unique microtonal musical environment that moves beyond the notions of style and tradition into a realm of uninhibited musical communication. As pitches and rhythms become fluid, so do cultural boundaries: elements that traditionally divide musicians and genre-specific modes are re-contextualized in a fresh transcultural soundscape.

Check out a full list of tour dates here.