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Ibrahim Maalouf Kalthoum

Performing Arts

Ibrahim Maalouf
Ibrahim Maalouf
Photo: Denis Rouvre
Ibrahim Maalouf
Thu, Sep 29, 2016 8 PM

“In this homage to Oum Kalthoum, the great Arabic singer…[the band] played with sleek assurance and devotional fire.”—New York Times

In this evening of adventurous jazz, Paris-based Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf brings together some of New York City’s finest jazz players to perform impassioned instrumental arrangements based on the songs of Oum Kalthoum. The most famous diva of the Arab world (and widely referred to as the “Star of the East”), Kalthoum was renowned for her extraordinary vocal ability on such songs as “Alf Leila wa Leila” (One thousand and one nights). Maalouf’s exultant and reverent jazz suite features arrangements of this epic song cycle, perhaps Kalthoum’s best-loved performance, which he devised with German pianist Frank Woeste. They perform here alongside a very impressive lineup that also features Rick Margitza on tenor sax, Scott Colley on bass, and drummer Clarence Penn. Maalouf’s performance of this material was a major highlight of this past year’s Winter Jazzfest in NYC.

A virtuoso of the quarter-tone trumpet (which enables him to play complex Arabic maqam melodies), Maalouf employs impeccable control, embellishments, and incantations to evoke Kalthoum’s swooping, emotionally penetrating vocals, as well as to summon the spirit of jazz giants John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. As he drives the band to ecstatic heights that are guaranteed to thrill, Maalouf’s masterful adaptations and jazz flair will delight fans who have enjoyed Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, and Amir ElSaffar at the Wex—likeminded artists who have boldly expanded our perspectives on jazz through the incorporation of musical ideas from their own cultural backgrounds.

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