Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers Ensemble celebrates the release of its third CD, Crisis, on Pi Recordings.
Crisis chronicles the continuing development of trumpeter Amir ElSaffar's critically acclaimed Two Rivers Ensemble, a band purpose-built to explore the juncture between jazz and music of the Middle East, in particular the Iraqi maqam. The new work is his reflection on a region in turmoil and strife: revolution, civil war, sectarian violence; a culture's struggle for survival. The result is passionate and visceral, a cry from the heart. Crisis was commissioned by the Newport Jazz Festival, where at its 2013 première, it made a clear emotional connection to the audience, receiving a rousing standing ovation after just the first piece. Driving and to the point, ElSaffar's music is beyond categorization not jazz, world music or any facile fusion thereof but a world unto its own.
"...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
"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...What Amir has done on Crisis is written compositions that are based upon his singing in an Iraqi tradition. The result is magical."
- George Wein, founder of Newport Jazz Festival
This concert is presented in part by Alwan for the Arts.