Two Rivers

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Two Rivers is jazz master Amir ElSaffar's debut album as a leader; he is a well-seasoned musician in both the jazz world and the classical one. He has performed as a member of pianist Vijay Iyer's celebrated group, and with Cecil Taylor's, he has also played on the front line with the brilliant -- if less widely known -- alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's group who returns the favor here. But ElSaffar is also a gifted and well-studied classical musician who has worked with conductor Daniel Barenboim, among others. None of this prepares the listener for Two Rivers. ElSaffar is an American-born artist: his father is a native Iraqi; his mother an American. After studying ...
See more details below
CD
$15.03
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$17.99 List Price
Other sellers (CD)
  • All (4) from $12.37   
  • New (4) from $12.37   

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Two Rivers is jazz master Amir ElSaffar's debut album as a leader; he is a well-seasoned musician in both the jazz world and the classical one. He has performed as a member of pianist Vijay Iyer's celebrated group, and with Cecil Taylor's, he has also played on the front line with the brilliant -- if less widely known -- alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's group who returns the favor here. But ElSaffar is also a gifted and well-studied classical musician who has worked with conductor Daniel Barenboim, among others. None of this prepares the listener for Two Rivers. ElSaffar is an American-born artist: his father is a native Iraqi; his mother an American. After studying jazz and classical music and playing with numerous ensembles in the United States and Europe, ElSaffar went to Iraq to study maqam music. Maqam is the urban classical vocal tradition in Iraq. According to the extensive notation on ElSaffar's website, it is found in ."..Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Basra, the maqam repertoire draws upon musical styles of the many populations in Iraq, such as the Bedouins, rural Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen, as well as neighboring Persians, Turks...." It has two distinct flavors, a more spiritual tenet for Qur'anic recitation, and a more secular one, performed in coffeehouses, gyms, and even by street vendors advertising their wares. The term for the singer or reciter is quarri or in the plural, qurra', which denotes its essentially spiritual nature. It is a complex music; a modal one upon which compositions, rhythms, and improvisations are based. It has a hundred different melodies at its core. At the heart of maqam is the theme, known as the ruhiyya or spiritual essence. What this has to do with jazz is everything. ElSaffar and his group -- Mahanthappa on alto saxophone; Zaafer Tawil on violin, oud, and dumbek; Tareq Abboushi on buzuq and frame drum; Carlo DeRosa on bass; Nasheet Waits on drums ElSaffar plays trumpet, sings, and plays the santoor -- play a suite based on various ruhiyya. ElSaffar's compositions are not mere exotic fusion, but wholly developed for jazz from the maqam. This is no mean feat. Here, in this thematic structure the title refers to the rivers of creation and civilization themselves, the Tigris and Euphrates this group offers a wildly original and deeply reverential music that is at once devastatingly beautiful, extremely human, and aspires to the divine. Here the formal structure of the maqam is the take-off and turning point, and what happens in between as these gifted players begin to articulate these themes based on an interpolation of rhythm, mode, harmony, tonality, and drone, is not only magical and emotionally rich, it is among the bravest music on the scene. In the late '50s, jazz bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, an American-born bassist of Sudanese descent, recorded for Prestige, RCA, and Stratus, a music in which he used the scales, rhythms, and the oud as expansion points for jazz. His wove a fabric that others had experimented with -- Yusef Lateef most successfully -- but that he incorporated wholesale. Many players followed his lead, and some, such as Rabih Abou-Khalil, have used Middle Eastern traditional music and instruments and woven these into the jazz tradition. ElSaffar goes as far in our day as Abdul-Malik did in his; he makes few compromises. This is a jazz record carefully assembled, expertly articulated and executed, that brings to the many American jazz fans a complete exposure to an ancient tradition, one that is seamlessly woven into the fabric of improvisation. The music is both inside and outside, accessible, difficult, and sometimes strange, but it is always beautiful, filled with rich, varied, individual voices in solos. ElSaffar's trumpet playing is superb; it ranges from the delicate and lonesome to the fiery and ecstatic. His singing calls for the poems and recitations of the ruhiyya and brings them to the listener unadorned, so, for those of us who do not speak a particular language or dialect, we can appreciate their feeling and integration as part of the composition and suite. The use of rhythm here is also ingenious: it's varied, subtle, and most of all, circular, allowing a place for the listener inside its movement. Talking about individual compositions here would be useless. This is a single work to be taken as a whole; it goes beyond the understanding initially, but it is highly sensual and seductive, and meets the place inside the human heart where desire beyond the body pulls at what is at least unspeakable in words, and further, at what is perhaps unknowable. This is as impressive a debut as we've had in America in the 21st century.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/18/2007
  • Label: Pi Recordings
  • UPC: 808713002423
  • Catalog Number: 24
  • Sales rank: 118,985

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Amir ElSaffar Primary Artist, Trumpet, Vocals, Santoor
Nasheet Waits Drums
Rudresh Mahanthappa Alto Saxophone
Tareq Abboushi Percussion, Frame Drum, Buzug
Carlo DeRosa Bass, Bass Guitar
Zafer Tawil Dumbek, Violin, Oud
Technical Credits
Michael Marciano Engineer
Seth Rosner Executive Producer
Yulun Wang Executive Producer, Audio Production
Michael Fossenkemper Mastering
Amir ElSaffar Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously