Four of the most idiosyncratic and creative voices at the margins of jazz, imagine their way into and around the music and philosophy of Ahmed Abdul-Malik. This is music to listen, dance and think to. A new jazz record, from a new jazz band.
- Seymour Wright (UK) – alto sax
- Pat Thomas (UK) – piano
- Joel Grip (SW) – double bass
- Antonin Gerbal (FR) – drums
[Ahmed] make music about the music of Ahmed Abdul-Malik. They excavate, re-inhabit and use a-new the now overlooked documents, and fragmentary plans, of his mid-20th century synthetic vision to produce a new jazz imagination for the 21st century.
Ahmed-Malik (1927-1993) was a NYC bassist, oudist, composer, educator and philosopher. A potent(ial) influence on Coltrane and Monk (we imagine), he was also a significant composer in his own right. (Ignored into creative obscurity, he spent his final decades teaching, and performing seldom). His albums Jazz Sahara (1958) and East Meets West (1960) fuse aspects of Arabic and East African musics and thought, his committed long-term relationship with Sufi Islam, and then-modern jazz and thinking – in revolutionary and vital ways. The product is exciting, radical, raw, and beautiful.
But, as well as honouring these traditions, Abdul-Malik invented and imagined a lot. Abdul- Malik’s straddling, synthetic and inclusive vision is one of the great projects of the imagination in jazz. He mixed sounds and ethics, meanings and beliefs in open, experimental ways without dogma.
And so do [Ahmed]. They visit and (re)think his compositions and the process potential in them. They play the notes, but use them, and the ideas in and about them, as vehicles for their unique imaginations, instrumental approaches and ideas. Through his compositions they re-imagine and re-synthesize, moving from what they know into newly creative space. They imagine themselves into the future, free of the dogma, clichés and cloy neo-classicisms of current ‘improvised music’ and ‘free jazz’.
Seymour Wright’s work is about the creative, situated friction of learning, ideas, people and the saxophone – music, history and technique – actual and potential.
His solo work is documented on three widely-acclaimed collections - Seymour Wright of Derby (2008), Seymour Writes Back (2015) and Is This Right? (2017).
Current projects include: abaria with Ute Kanngiesser; [Ahmed] with Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Pat Thomas; @xcrswx with Crystabel Riley; GUO with Daniel Blumberg; The Experimental Library with Evie Ward; XT with Paul Abbott; a trans-atlantic duet with Anne Guthrie, and, with Jean-luc Guionnet a project addressing an imaginary lacunae in Aby Warburg's Atlas Mnemosyne.
His writing has been published in C//A, Sound American and The Wire.
Pat Thomas began playing music at the age of eight. He studied classical music and reggae was an early interest. Thomas was inspired to take up jazz after seeing legendary pianist Oscar Peterson on television. By 1979, Thomas was performing seriously as an improviser. His experimental leanings manifested themselves in the form of electronics -- he plays and programs electronic keyboards and uses pre-recorded tapes in his music. In 1986, he became a member of Ghosts, a band that also included flutist/saxophonist Pete McPhail and percussionist Matt Lewis. In 1988, Thomas' interest in electronic music was rewarded with a commission to write two new compositions for his own ten-piece electro-acoustic ensemble, Monads; the group included vocalist Phil Minton, violinist Phil Durrant, bassist Marcio Matttos, and trumpeter Jon Corbett. Thomas was invited to participate in guitarist Derek Bailey's Company Week (an annual series of concerts featuring different combinations of improvisers) in 1990 and 1991. He's played in drummer Tony Oxley's quartet and Celebration Orchestra, and with soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill in a variety of combinations. Other ad hoc collaborators have included Steve Beresford, Thurston Moore, and Eugene Chadbourne. In 1992, Thomas formed the quartet Scatter with Minton, Roger Turner, and Dave Tucker; the band toured the U.K. in 1993 and 1997. Thomas is also a member -- with drummer Joe Gallivan and electric guitarist Gary Smith -- of Powerfield, a power trio that's recorded for Gallivan's newjazz.com label. Thomas has recorded for several independent jazz labels in Europe, including Incus, Leo, Intakt, and Acta. In 2001, Emanem released 3 Pianos, by Thomas and fellow pianists Beresford and Veryan Weston.