Press: Alchemy

Amir El Saffar Alchemy cover“a rousing amalgamation of propulsive modern jazz and modal lyricism …  a milestone session” – Troy Collins, Point of Departure

“sometimes stately, sometimes exuberant, hard-swinging explorations” – Lucid Culture’s Best Jazz Albums of 2013

“It is, at once, modern and ancient—something you’ve heard all your life and something brand new.” – Frank Alkyer, Downbeat Magazine

“For all its cross-cultural ties, the album’s roots also lie with Duke Ellington … ElSaffar’s expansion of that idea reveals something new, but it’s telling how rich and inviting the music remains. Ultimately it’s a sound that renders our world a much smaller place, and it’s that much richer for it. ★★★½ (out of 4)” – Chris Barton, The Los Angeles Times

“Cultures converge to exquisite effect in trumpeter ElSaffar’s indelible recording … some of the most shimmering, subtle work of ElSaffar’s career.” – Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune

“a record that is radically contemporary in its sound even as it connects with music’s most ancient roots” – Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times

“Impressive music that keeps the tradition going, yet still moving forward.” – George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly

“Alchemy is a prime example of fine musicianship, coupled with a strong pioneering spirit; Amir ElSaffar has once again proved that his artistry is ever improving and is always capable bringing something fresh to the ear. Never cliché or pastiche, Alchemy is an album that will stay in our jazz playlists for years. ★★★★½” – Ahmed Al Dahan, Cairo 360

“an unexpected amount of sardonic wit … one of the most successfully ambitious albums of recent months, full of disquieting energy and a contender for best of 2013.” – Lucid Culture

“this is worldjazz of a complexity that you rarely hear … ★★★★” – The Free Jazz Collective

“The bottom line: this music comes across, surprisingly perhaps, as a superb post bop quintet date that could have been released anywhere from the ’60′s to the present with great acclaim.” – Scott Albin, JazzTimes

“High-concept jazz should actually sound good, as do these originals by virtuosic, nuanced trumpeter ElSaffar” – Howard Mandel, Arts Journal

“The trumpeter’s experimental side meets up with his world-jazz research on this subtle, adventurous recording… at once like a social invitation and a personal statement.” – Seth Colter Walls, Rhapsody

“ElSaffar’s new album Alchemy is a step forward in defining and refining his concept.” – Kevin Whitehead, NPR Music

“a new kind of dramatic tension in ElSaffar’s music … moments of spine-tingling beauty.”- Kevin Laskey, Jazz Speaks

“Here’s a fascinating thesis on the link between ancient music and modern music that you can actually enjoy with your ears instead of slogging through it with your eyes.” – S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!

“This music jumps out at you with its rhythmic intensity…” – Step Tempest

“Alchemy showcases ElSaffar’s prowess as a player, composer, and bandleader … while at times it evokes Hancock, Coltrane, and the orchestral tradition, it always sounds original.” – Mike Oppenheim, All About Jazz

“ElSaffar’s trumpet solo took the audience on a meditative journey” – Tom Greenland, NYC Jazz Record

“ElSaffar frequently talks about makam’s specifics and the difficulties of bringing the two [jazz and makam] lineages together – a challenge that he’s accomplished with aplomb. But he knows that people who aren’t steeped in musical knowledge listen for something else … The Newport ovation validated ElSaffar’s blending of makam and jazz, his still-in-development alchemy.” – Howard Mandel, Downbeat Magazine (Full page spread, Jan 2014)