YAZZ AHMED, Polyhymnia (Ropeadope Records, 2019)
PERSONNEL: Yazz Ahmed (trumpet, flugelhorn) and multiple guests
- Lahan al-Mansour
- Ruby Bridges
- One Girl Among Many
- 04 2857
- Deeds Not Words
The #MeToo movement has helped see to it that the contributions of women the world over are recognized, be it in life, business, or the arts. Music in general, and jazz in particular, is no exception.
With her album Polyhymnia (released in October), Yazz Ahmed uses her trumpet and flugelhorn as a prime example of the brilliance women bring to a male-dominated art form.
The album derives its title from the ancient Greek muse of music, poetry, and dance. Ahmed has put together a remarkable set of tone poems that pay respect to both the history of jazz and this generation’s influence of other musical forms. Each suite on the album is dedicated to women of deep social and political influence to Ahmed, who makes the most of her British-Bahraini heritage to create a lush tapestry of sound that comes from multiple influences.
Album opener “Lahan al-Mansour” provides a nice mix of the old and new schools of jazz, immediately putting Ahmed’s wide range on display. The bounce of “Ruby Bridges” would be right at home on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. “One Girl Among Many” establishes the album’s feminist theme through both its music and the spoken-word poem halfway through the song.
Things get musically intense with “2857,” one of the album’s highlights. After a mellow start, things beer into highly polyrhythmic but not easily defined musical territory. It makes for a nice musical shift. “Deeds Not Words” continues the stylistic forward push, while Ahmed soars over the top of the intertwining prog rock style of “Barbara.”
Ahmed’s orchestra consists of some 33 musicians, two-thirds of whom are female. Each makes a solid contribution to the album’s sound, creating an album worthy of repeated plays. Polyhymnia should not be missed.
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