Tag Archives: Yazz Ahmed

This Week’s Essential Releases: Jazz, African Country, Minimal Synth & More

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Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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The Best Jazz Albums of 2017

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“Some” is a word we should introduce early on—as in, this is some of the Best Jazz of 2017. As 11 previous Best Jazz On Bandcamp columns have proven, there’s more music that warrants consideration than we have space available. Some of these albums have received previous mention in those columns, but most are brand new, often hitting the Bandcamp shelves after columns had already been submitted. So, in addition to this being a celebration of the Best Jazz on Bandcamp in 2017, it’s also an opportunity to discover even more new music. This has been a great year for new jazz, and this list is more proof of that fact.

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Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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The Best Albums of 2017: #20 – 1

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The wait is over. These are the 20 Best Albums of the year.

Last year, the Bandcamp Daily staff put together our first “Best Albums of the Year List,” 100 albums we felt defined 2016 for us. At the time I remember thinking, “This is tough, but it will probably get easier as the years go on.” Now, one year later, I’m realizing that I was wrong. The truth is, the world of Bandcamp is enormous, and it contains artists from all over the world, in every conceivable genre (including a few who exist in genres of their own invention), and at every stage of their career. The fact of the matter is, any list like this is going to fall short because, on Bandcamp, there is always more to discover. Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available. The albums that made this list, though, were the ones that stayed with us long after they were released—the ones we returned to again and again and found their pleasures undimmed, and their songs still rewarding. These are Bandcamp’s Best Albums of 2017.

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The Best Albums of Spring 2017

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Every three months, the Bandcamp Daily editorial staff combs through the stacks to present our favorite records of the year to date. This edition runs the stylistic spectrum, everything from jazz to pop to gospel to everything in between. And if you want to see our picks for the first three months of 2017, you can check them out here.

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On “La Saboteuse,” Yazz Ahmed Combines U.K. Jazz With the Music of Bahrain

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The first indication of what Yazz Ahmed’s new album, La Saboteuse, might sound like actually appeared on her 2011 debut, Finding My Way Home. On that album, the trumpeter made skillful use of Arabic scales, and ventured cautiously into cosmic jazz.

On La Saboteuse, Ahmed expands on all of those early impulses, and the result is less an album than it is a statement of purpose. The influence of Arabic music remains prominent: a single melodic mode, or maqam, runs throughout the length of the recording. It also turns up on a series of interludes that pair the melodic sighs of Ahmed’s horn with the icy precision of Lewis Wright’s vibraphone.

Ahmed was born in Bahrain, and moved to London with her family when she was nine years old and La Saboteuse is a reflection of both places. The Bahraini influence emerges through those Arabic scales and the group’s improvisational methods; it also turns up in percussionist Corrina Silvester’s generous use of Middle Eastern rhythm instruments like bendir, darbuka, krakeb, and riq. Silvester’s drumming creates rich lines of rhythmic communication throughout the recording; on “Jamil Jamal,” the instruments’ chatter provides a backdrop for bass clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings and vibraphonist Wright to weave together thick threads of melody.

Ahmed’s work as a collaborator with artists like Lee “Scratch” Perry, Max Romeo, and Swing Out Sister also transcends borders, and her experience contributing to Radiohead’s King of Limbs informs La Saboteuse. The inclusion of a rendition of that group’s “Bloom” is the most overt example, but Ahmed employs a host of electronic effects throughout La Saboteuse. A Kaoss Pad transforms “The Space Between The Fish and The Moon” into an otherworldly ballad with wobbly melodicism, while a track “Al Emadi” reaps the benefits of smart in-studio editing by running melodic lines back and forth in opposite directions, one dubbed over the other, each pulling the attention in multiple directions. And then there’s the alluring “Belielle,” where the use of electronics makes it seem as if the melody is burning at the edges, its embers swept up in the sonic breeze of Naadia Sheriff’s Fender Rhodes piano. The net effect is mesmerizing.

We spoke with Ahmed about the evolution of her sound, how recording sessions involved road trips, the struggle with identity, and how those things informed her new album.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Brazilian Pop, Video Games, and UK Jazz

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Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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The Best New Jazz on Bandcamp: February 2017

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Illustration by Clay Hickson

This month: music inspired by Indonesian Gamelan Orchestras, chamber jazz led by tuba, old-school compositions given new life in the present day, music made in the spirit of protest, music made in the spirit of joy, music from down South and music that’s at home in outer space. All of it is continued proof of the expansiveness of modern jazz.

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