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El Saffar, Amir – Two Rivers Ensemble – “Inana” – [Pi Recordings]

Inana is the Sumerian goddess of carnal love and warfare, predecessor to Aphrodite and Venus and inspiration for endless strands of mythology throughout ancient cultures. Known as the goddess of infinite variety due to her unpredictability complexity of character and unpredictability she is often associated with chaos and disorder. This release from Iraqi-American trumpeter/composer Amir El Saffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble, a collection of prominent NY jazz pioneers exploring the sonic possibilities of Arabic musical forms within jazz, is an epic retelling of the myth of Inana. Beginning with the retribution she exacts on her former lover, the shepherd-god Dumuzi, the suite goes on to expose the many facets of the character Inana, culminating in the legend of her death and rebirth in Journey to the Underworld. The music here combines the ancient ceremonial Arabic improvisational technique of Iraqi??maqam, using microtonal modulations, meter-less lines and flexible tonalities, and combines this with the polyrhythmic syncopations, contrapuntal harmonies and polyphonic melodies of modern jazz within a dynamic group improvisational setting. Whether it be Mathisen’s chromatic cannonades on sax, Tabil or Abboushi’s mysteriously lyrical poetry on oud and buzuq (long-necked lute similar to the Turkish saz), or El Saffar’s deftly collected compositions on trumpet, vocals or santour (hammered dulcimer), the musicians here display virtuosic control over the maqam’s microtonal structures and use it to transform the jazz idiom in new and unprecedented ways.

  • Reviewed by abacus on November 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
  • 1 comment

  • One Comment

    nice! for some more cool Arabic mode jazz, check out the album “Diasporas” by Ibrahim Maalouf. thanks for the music!

  • Comment by chris harvey, December 11th, 2011 11:18 am

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