CD Review: Yazz Ahmed – Finding My Way Home

Yazz Ahmed – Finding My Way Home,
(Suntara Records SUN 7422001, CD Review by Chris Parker)

Trumpeter/composer Yazz Ahmed has made something of a splash on the current UK jazz scene since graduating from the Guildhall School six years ago, and this album can only help establish her as a strikingly original voice.

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It’s structured as a roots-oriented journey, exploiting both what the accompanying publicity calls “Arabic scales” and more overtly conventional jazz-based fare in the process, its core the strong, infectiously enthusiastic musical bond between Ahmed and bass guitar virtuoso Janek Gwizdala, with whom she improvises four spontaneous duets and a number of more structured duo pieces, including deft, absorbing visits to Miles Davis’s So What and Stan Sulzmann’s Birthdays, Birthdays.

Ahmed has a precise, poised but warm, atmospheric sound, well suited to the flugelhorn she also plays, and both her informal but rousingly powerful collaborations with the alternately growling and spurting Gwizdala and the more ambitious, extended, multi-textured pieces in which she skilfully deploys larger forces (among them clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings, tenor player Alam Nathoo and cellist Chris Fish) showcase a considerable and – most important – highly individual instrumental and compositional talent.

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