Amir ElSaffar & Rivers of Sound - The Other Shore - Avant Music News
This is the second release from the 17-piece Rivers of Sound Orchestra, the first coming in 2017. Veteran trumpeter Amir ElSaffar leads this outfit through a huge new release featuring a melting pot of instrumentation and sounds covering Western jazz, as well as Middle Eastern, Asian, and Northern African music. Represented are oud, buzuq, santur, joza, cello, saxophone, oboe, mrudangam, frame drum, drum set, re-tuned piano, vibraphone, and guitar, played by a number of well-known musicians from New York and beyond.
The focus here is not jazz played with world instruments nor on a jazz band playing non-western music. Instead, the Orchestra blends techniques, timbres, and colors until the result is something novel. Sure, one can hear the thick horns of American jazz as well as the spiraling melodies of Arabic music. But there is no one overriding style or approach. ElSaffar provides structural guidance to the group, so that the rhythms ground each piece. As a result, this is not free jazz in the strictest sense, even if the multi-instrumental improvisations are loose and wailing at times.
But the sheer energy of this recording is infectious. With so much going on throughout, it will certainly be a candidate for repeated listenings.