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Jazz Sahara

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Album Review

This CD reissue is an early example of fusing jazz with world music. Abdul-Malik switches between bass and oud; interacts closely with the droning violin of Naim Karacand, Jack Ghanaim's kanoon (a 72-string instrument), and Mike Hamway's darabeka (a percussive drum); and mixes in Al Harewood's drums and (on three of the four selections) the tenor of Johnny Griffin. The music is a qualified success, essentially Middle Eastern folk music with Griffin added in. This set is interesting and, in its own way, innovative but not essential.

Customer Reviews

The First

Amazing this album was made in 1958. One of the first, if not the first, attempts at combining jazz with music from other parts of the world—a practice that would later go on to become practically its own genre. Great players here, including Johnny Griffin. Performances are a little uneven—you can tell that they didn’t have a ton of studio time and the band was somewhat thrown together for the session. But lots of fire and chemistry, and an enjoyable listen. The follow-up, “East West” is more polished, but this one has a sort of recklessness that I enjoy more.


Born: January 30, 1927 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s

Ahmed Abdul-Malik was one of the first musicians to integrate non-Western musical elements into jazz. In addition to being a hard bop bassist of some distinction, he also played the oud, a double-stringed, unfretted Middle Eastern lute, played with a plectrum. Abdul-Malik recorded on the instrument in the '50s with Johnny Griffin and in 1961 with John Coltrane, contributing to one of the several albums that resulted from the latter's Live at the Village Vanguard sessions. The artist also recorded...
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Jazz Sahara, Ahmed Abdul Malik
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