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أحمد [Ahmed]: Wooden Blues Album Overview

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On a chilly spring evening in 2022, the jazz quartet أحمد [Ahmed] arrange at one finish of the lengthy, slim warehouse house of Glasgow’s industrial-chic Glue Manufacturing unit. Their muse and namesake Ahmed Abdul-Malik was there in spirit. The setlist consisted of just one music: the late jazz musician’s “Oud Blues,” which runs to about 4 minutes within the authentic 1961 model. By the point أحمد [Ahmed] completed with it, they’d been enjoying for practically an hour.

Wooden Blues is a recording of that phenomenal efficiency—directly a canopy music, an avant-garde improv session, and a driving, swinging jazz live performance. أحمد [Ahmed] have been honing the self-esteem for a decade: Each present, they select an Abdul-Malik composition and switch it inside out. Pianist Pat Thomas found the little-known bassist and oudist within the Eighties and instantly acknowledged his significance. Born Jonathan Tim, Jr. in Brooklyn to immigrant dad and mom, Abdul-Malik modified his identify to say his Islamic identification and Sudanese lineage. His household was from the Caribbean, not Sudan, however he reached again additional, reclaiming his diasporic African heritage. As a bandleader, Abdul-Malik integrated Arabic devices—qanun, darbuka, a violin tuned to fourths and fifths—into his ensembles. His late ’50s and early ’60s albums like Jazz Sahara and East Meets West ushered within the new type of modal jazz alongside landmark recordings by Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

Thomas needed to revive Abdul-Malik’s music, to show a footnote right into a headline. Saxophonist Seymour Wright shared his curiosity and joined Thomas’s trio اسم [ISM], with bassist Joel Grip and drummer Antonin Gerbal, to type أحمد [Ahmed]. Collectively, they’re one thing of a supergroup, every participant a star in a special constellation of the European improvised music scene. They solely carry out stay, with no apply or advance planning. However from their separate cities—Thomas and Wright in London, Grip in Berlin, Gerbal in Paris—they’re all the time excited about Abdul-Malik. Once they play considered one of his songs, all that considering comes out in a torrent of sound.

Wooden Blues is directly thrillingly violent and fervently devoted in its transformations of Abdul-Malik’s materials, altering the unique past recognition but holding its spirit alive. The recording begins with the viewers chattering as Grip performs the strolling bassline of “Oud Blues.” Thomas provides melodic piano prospers and Gerbal lays down a shuffling beat. Wright helps with quick percussive clicks from his saxophone, then extends these clicks into bursts, buying and selling licks with Thomas, who bangs on the keys with rising drive. There’s a shift within the room because the viewers goes quiet. Piano and sax merge right into a single pummeling assault. Gerbal retains time with a gradual tom-tom pulse, and Grip carries the melody by the fray. The second can’t final lengthy, and shortly the band is propelled by a frantic rhythm, Thomas pounding the piano, Wright blowing with horrifying energy, the group now shouting, screaming, dancing.

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