On Thursday, April 16th Amir ElSaffar will premiere a new work, Not Two, with his Rivers of Sound ensemble. The ensemble features 17 musicians from a broad spectrum of traditions, from 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. Click here for details.
Amir ElSaffar returned to Newport Jazz Festival for the second year in a row this time with his quintet featuring John Escreet, Francois Moutin, Dan Weiss, and Ole Mathisen. Check out these great photos of the group by Adam Kissick for NPR Music!
Along side the likes of Gerald Clayton, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding and Ambrose Akinmusire, Amir ElSaffar was listed as one of the “coolest” artists of the next generation of jazz. Read more in Downbeat.
Rivers of Sound is a 60-minute work composed for an ensemble of 17 instrumentalists and vocalists of diverse musical backgrounds, performing on Arab, Central Asian, South Asian, and Western instruments. Rivers of Sound is an outgrowth of the Two Rivers large ensemble and incorporates elements of maqam with jazz and other contemporary musical practices to create a musical environment that moves beyond the notions of style and tradition into a realm of uninhibited musical communication. Learn more about the MAP Fund.
Check out the video from Amir ElSaffar and Two Rivers at Newport Jazz Festival, August 2013:
“Cyclical melodic cells and rhythmic complications took on another cast when deployed by Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble. A trumpeter, vocalist and santoor (hammered dulcimer) player, ElSaffar used microtonality and melodic decorations derived from 14th century Iraqi maqam practices in songs that bristled with free-jazz frontline urgency. His pliant tone on horn was matched by the tough tenor of saxophonist Ole Mathisen, Tareq Abboushi on buzuq (a long-necked lute), Zafer Tawil on oud and dumbek, bassist Carlo De Rosa and drummer Nasheet Waits. This was certainly the first Middle Eastern-imbued jazz combo at Newport to win a standing ovation for its first song.”
-Downbeat Magazine on the Two Rivers Ensemble at Newport Jazz Festival August 2013 (full article)
- Listen to the Two Rivers Ensemble performance at Newport Jazz Festival 2013 on NPR Music’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.