Press: Crisis

“I once had the opportunity to ask Louis Armstrong how he happened to be the first musician to play behind the beat, which, in a sense, created the jazz vocabulary. Louis replied: ‘I don’t know, I just played like I sang.’ Amir ElSaffar is a remarkable musician. His set at Newport several years ago was uniformly accepted as one of the musical highlights of the festival. The music that Amir played that day reflected the entire cultures of the Middle East, from Arabic to Hebraic to Christian chants. What Amir has done on Crisis is written compositions that are based upon his singing in an Iraqi tradition. The result is magical.  With his jazz talent, combined with the roots of his ancestors, Amir has created an individual style that is memorable to all who have the good fortune to hear it.”– George Wein

“★★★★★…what ElSaffar is doing on Crisis is unique in music…from a political and historical vantage point, the task of narrating complex global events through instrumental music is more than challenging. ElSaffar has not only commendably told this personal and globally important story but has produced a masterpiece of a recording in doing so.” – Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz

“★★★★½…ElSaffar continues to be a singular voice in modern music as this record clearly demonstrates. He has gone beyond others in superbly and seamlessly blending Middle Eastern melodies and Jazz…intriguing and captivating” – Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz

“★★★★½”– Bradley Bambarger, Downbeat Magazine

“Crisis is a work of rare beauty and power” – Stewart Smith, The Quietus

“Towering, majestic, haunting, dynamically rich, often grim, it might be the best album of 2015 in any style of music” – New York Music Daily

“With Crisis, ElSaffar may have turned a new leaf. The composition tells a story, an archetypal tale of Baghdad’s contemporary moment… From the ruins of track one emerge conflicting societal forces — those which today contest for Iraq. The consequences of their interactions laid bare, a crisis is born.” Simon Davis-Cohen, LA Review of Books

“Among the most notable releases of 2015” – Bill Beuttler, JazzTimes

“”Crisis” stands as one of the most beautiful and evocative jazz recordings of the year” – Howard Reich, The Chicago Tribune

“It is a powerful album that demands to be heard, not only as an excellent jazz LP, but also as a clarion call to artists of all disciplines to band together to make substantive changes to the injustices they see around them” – Tim Niland, Jazz and Blues Blog

“The themes are beautiful, the rhythms complex and ever changing, the interplay excellent, and the emotional depth even better than before.” – The Free Jazz Collective

“ElSaffar’s compositions retain their meticulous plotting, structural ingenuity, and lyrical beauty, but his top-notch band digs into the new material with a sense of purpose informed by fury, insecurity, and devotion” – Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

“ElSaffar never calls out the causes of the crisis, only laments what is lost. One never finds out, for example who “The Great Dictator” is. But the programmatic aspect of the suite allows him to express not just the aspects of his heritage that have, at the level of nation and culture, come into conflict with each other; he expresses the conflict it self, and by successfully containing it, envisioned its resolution.” – The Wire UK

“★★★½ (out of 4)” – Alberto Bazzuro, All About Jazz Italia

“a sound that clearly delighted and ravished the audience” – Henning Bolte, All About Jazz