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Ahmed – Super Majnoon [East Meets West]

أحمد [Ahmed] – the quartet of Pat Thomas, Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Seymour Wright – make music of heavy rhythm, repetition and syncopation set deep into an understanding of jazz and the obscure depths of its history. Across the 2 LPs which make up ‘Super Majnoon [East Meets West] ’the group work and rework the music of the late musician Ahmed Abdul-Malik to create a stamping, swinging, relentlessly propulsive record where profundity and physicality root right back to ecstatic feeling. 

Abdul-Malik was a NYC bassist, oudist, composer, educator and philosopher who fused aspects of American, Arabic and East African thought, ethics, meanings and beliefs in open and experimental ways to make vital, forward leaning jazz. [Ahmed] reimagine the notes of Malik as they push for new ground. Melodies respirate, swell, escalate and combust in a driving jazz which yes is technical, yes is accomplished, but ultimately just foot-to-the-floor swings. 

‘Super Majnoon [East Meets West]’ is a title fused from the leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka Bechir Attar’s description of [Ahmed] after hearing them in Switzerland last year (Majnoon is the arabic slang for ‘crazy’), and Abdul-Malik’s 1959 album East Meets West. Arriving as a double LP, the first comprises studio recordings of [Ahmed] at Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery in 2018 and the second a scorched live recording at OTO from August 2018. The record features photos by Bert Glinnand Taku Unamiand ‘in and out’ liner notes by James G. Spady – historian and journalist from Philadelphia, the author of books on Marcus Garvey and the trilogy of groundbreaking books on hip hop (Nation Conscious Rap, Street Conscious Rap, The Global Cypha). 

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[Ahmed] are:

PAT THOMAS / piano 

ANTONIN GERBAL / drums 

JOEL GRIP / bass 

SEYMOUR WRIGHT / alto saxophone 

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LP 1 recorded by David Sum at Empty Gallery Hong, March 31, 2018. LP 2 recorded by Paul Skinner at Café OTO London, August 25, 2018. LP1 mixed by David Sum. LP 2 mixed by Pat Thomas. Mastered by James Dunn. Liner notes © James G. Spady. Cover photo © Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos. Design by Maja Larsson. Produced by John Hawthorn, Jens Löwius and Seymour Wright.

LP 1:

SIDE A E-Lail [The Night] East - 19:28

SIDE B Farah ‘Alaiyna (Joy Upon Us) - 20:57

LP 2:

SIDE A + B E-Lail [The Night] West- 34:31

Extra Digital Tracks:

1. East Meets West Aggregates - 39:38

2. El Haris - 43:24

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“When a musician plays, he should paint a picture”: said Malik, “he should portray wind, movement, war, the universe – and after he finishes, he should be able to repeat in words what he has just said in music.The Man I Love – thingshave all been said before – over and over again. The reason people don’t come to concerts is that they’re used to the sounds.”

To guard against this “stagnation,” said Malik, jazz must branch out, experiment, fight the inbreeding that is now its wont. Musicians must stop looking inward, and instead, open their eyes to the imaginations of other cultures. 

 – Malik interviewed by Bob Gannon Metronome 1958.

Seymour Wright

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.

www.seymourwright.com

@xcrswx

Joel Grip

For a number of years now, energetic double bassist, filmmaker and producer Grip has played an important role for the new scenes of improvised music in Europe. As founder of Umlaut Records, he opened up for creative forms of organizing collectives of musicians and promoting their music internationally. Since 2003 he has been one of the main organizers of Hagenfesten in Dala-Floda, Sweden, a stand-alone festival, and quite frankly possibly the most pleasant venue for free improvised music not only in Sweden but in the whole of Europe. Few other places offer quite the same endearing combination of sophisticated musical risk-taking, and up-beat, social get-together. Grip’s musicianship is informed by a similar knack for welding musical sophistication with social communication, often with an analog film camera at hand. With a handful of short films Joel Grip met mexican filmmaker Mauricio Hernández and shortly the film production company Umlicht was established. They are right now working on their second feature film together.

www.joelgrip.com / www.umlicht.com

Pat Thomas

Pat Thomas studied classical piano from aged 8 and started playing Jazz from the age of 16. He has since gone on to develop an utterly unique style - embracing improvisation, jazz and new music. He has played with Derek Bailey in Company Week (1990/91) and in the trio AND (with Noble) – with Tony Oxley’s Quartet and Celebration Orchestra and in Duo with Lol Coxhill. 

"Sartorially shabby as Thomas may be, and on first impression even rather stolid, he has a somewhat imperious charisma that’s immediately amplified when he starts to play. Unlike other pianists whose virtuosity seems to be racing ahead of their thought processes Thomas always seems supremely in command of his gift, and his playing, no matter how free and ready to tangle with abstraction, always carries a charge of authoritative exactitude." - The Jazzmann 

Antonin Gerbal

Antonin Gerbal is a percussion player, improviser and composer, active in the field of contemporary musics – from jazz to non-idiomatic languages. He has studied music at Paris Conservatory and philosophy at EHESS. In 2009 he co-founded Umlaut France, an organization which runs the eponymous label and organizes concerts and festivals in Paris and Berlin. Antonin Gerbal is mainly using percussion elements to develop multiple accesses to musical languages in jazz, improvised or written music. He has collaborated with many international artists and played in United States, Japan, Russia and Europe.

http://www.umlautrecords.com/people/antonin-gerbal/