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Finding My Way Home (2011)

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Finding My Way Home is the debut release from British trumpet player,‎ Yazz Ahmed.‎

The album is a collection of original compositions and improvisations, exploring the sounds and rhythms of ‎Yasmeen’s Arabic heritage, revisiting memories from her early childhood in Bahrain. These are contrasted with ‎pieces reflecting the classic British jazz from the 1950s and 60s, which was the soundtrack to her teenage years and was her gateway into improvised music.

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Yazz’s Grandfather, Terry Brown, was a jazz trumpeter who played alongside Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and as a ‎member of the original John Dankworth Seven. He went on to become a successful record producer for Pye and ‎Philips Records. Yazz picked up the trumpet inspired by the music and the stories that Terry shared with her.‎
Finding My Way Home also features the sublime talents of bass guitar virtuoso, Janek Gwizdala. Now widely regarded as one of ‎the finest players in the world, Janek was actually a nineteen-year-old beginner on trumpet when he and Yazz first met in ‎the brass ensemble at the Merton Music Foundation. After a ten-year gap, their friendship was renewed, thanks to the power of ‎Facebook. Noticing he would be visiting London during November 2008, Yazz asked Janek if he would be interested in ‎recording a session of duets. Janek was delighted to accept, even though they had last played together when Yazz was just ‎fourteen years old.‎

These intimate tracks, specially arranged for flugelhorn and bass guitar, recorded at the Cowshed in London, form the main ‎body of the album. In addition to Yazz’s Affirmation, Stan Sulzmann’s Birthdays, Birthdays and the Miles Davis classic So What, ‎the pair also recorded four spontaneous compositions, utilizing Arabic scales. These evocative and mysterious pieces, ‎Embarkation, Al Muharraq, Birth of the Fool and Finding My Way Home, bind the album together but also become the vehicles ‎for a musical journey of self-discovery.‎

Whilst at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Yazz began writing for her first quintet. Two of her original compositions for ‎this band, the poignant ballad, Conciliation and the Joe Henderson inspired Flip Flop, are performed here by Alam Nathoo tenor ‎sax, John Bailey piano, Jay Darwish double bass and George Hart on drums.‎

Yazz also met Shabaka Hutchings while at the Guildhall. His bass clarinet playing is featured on Wah-Wah Sowahwah, the first ‎of Yazz’s Arabic flavoured compositions, inspired by the session with Janek. The other musicians on this track are Simon Hale, ‎playing Fender Rhodes, cellist, Chris Fish, Corrina Silvester – an expert in North African and Arabic hand drumming – and bass ‎guitarist, Laurence Cottle.‎

The album closes with Finding My Way Home, which draws elements from the various recordings together to frame the most ‎expansive of the improvised duets. The arc of this title track is a miniature version of the whole album. From the opening notes ‎of the lone trumpet, crying out in the wilderness, it conjures images of a vast desert landscape and takes the listener on a ‎sensuous journey. The caravan finally comes to rest at an oasis of cool calmness with Noel Langley’s orchestration, for the large ‎ensemble, of Janek’s improvised coda, taken from the very first recording day.‎
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Working on Finding My Way Home has inspired Yazz to form two new ensembles to reflect these recordings and the new ‎compositions that have blossomed from this album. Ahmed’s new quintet had the pleasure of making their debut performance ‎when opening the 2010 Brit Jazz Fest at Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club, London.‎

Subsequently, the band received an array of positive reviews with Jazzwise Magazine highlighting Yazz’s flugelhorn playing and ‎tipping her as a star of the future. Gary Crosby OBE includes Finding My Way Home in his top five releases of 2011.‎

Tracklist
Embarkation (Composed By – Janek Gwizdala, Yazz Ahmed) 1:51
Wah-Wah Sowahwah (Composed By – Yazz Ahmed) 7:30
Al Muharraq (Composed By – Janek Gwizdala, Yazz Ahmed) 2:16
Flip Flop (Composed By – Yazz Ahmed) 5:22
Affirmation (Composed By – Yazz Ahmed) 5:45
Conciliation (Composed By – Yazz Ahmed) 5:20
So What (Composed By – Miles Davis) 5:06
Birthdays, Birthdays (Composed By – Stan Sulzmann) 5:42
The Birth of the Fool (Composed By – Janek Gwizdala, Yazz Ahmed) 1:33
Finding My Way Home (Composed By – Janek Gwizdala, Yazz Ahmed & Orchestrated By – Noel Langley) 10:03

Credits
Bass – Jay Darwish
Bass Clarinet, Clarinet – Shabaka Hutchings
Bass Guitar – Janek Gwizdala, Laurence Cottle
Cello – Chris Fish
Drums – Corrina Silvester, George Hart
Fender Rhodes – Simon Hale
Piano – John Bailey (13)
Tenor Saxophone – Alam Nathoo
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Yazz Ahmed

Additional information

Label

Suntara Records ‎– SUN7422001

Released

01 Aug 2011

Genre

Jazz, Folk, World, & Country

Style

Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation

Format

Audio CD

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