Yazz Ahmed’s unique sound and extraordinary band was enjoyed last week at the Guildhall School Music Showcase, offering the audience the opportunity to experience Ahmed’s blend of ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz’.
Last year, she released the album ‘La Saboteuse’ resulting in rave reviews and several awards. The album draws on influences from her mixed heritage, exploration in sound design and electronic elements, and easily earns its label of ‘intoxicating and compelling’.
This was the second time I had seen Yazz and was just as impressed this time around. Although she was performing with only half her band on this occasion – a quartet – the performance in no way lacked in either sound or energy. All five performers were sharp, tight and gave a perfect balance of holding back and letting go to honour their own and other’s solos. To add to her fantastic performance, the sound quality was amazing. The room in which they performed, the Milton Court Studio Theatre had an incredible sound system allowing each member to be clearly heard and enjoyed.
Yazz Ahmed’s performance was indeed intoxicating with the rich and diverse Middle Eastern elements explored in her music transporting the audience far away from the venue. Her music spans multiple cultures and generations and her use of Arabian modes is alluringly exotic and captivating, especially as you get to hear the meaning of jazz being reimagined. Yazz’s use of FX pedals on her trumpet gave an interesting edge and her other uses of sound manipulation were interesting, adding to the psychedelic element in her music while giving a futuristic sound too.
With Yazz’s next release ‘Polyhymnia’ set for 2019, I look forward to seeing how she can keep on reshaping jazz. With so much excellent jazz coming out right now, looking ahead to the future has never been so exciting to predict.