Photo: Ibrahim Maalouf | Photo Credit: Jean-Paul Lesage, 2014 Pleins Feux Festival
The next show will air on Sunday, September 18, 2016 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with trumpeter and composer Ibrahim Maalouf.
Ibrahim Maalouf discovered the trumpet with his father Nassim Maalouf – a former student of Maurice André and the first Arabic trumpeter to play Western classical music. He studied modern, classical, baroque and contemporary concertos, and at the same time was surrounded by Arabic classical, ethnic and traditional music. All those types of music were based on makams (Arabic modes), and Ibrahim could reproduce them thanks to his father’s invention in the sixties – the quarter-tone trumpet (with a fourth valve). The music that comes out of this particular trumpet is the expression of an age-old culture. Nobody before his father had thought of paying tribute to it by adapting the Arabic musical language to the trumpet through the real quarter tones system.
As a boy, Maalouf used to dream of becoming an architect in order to rebuild Lebanon. Instead he built his life around the rich and mixed heritage which he can communicate through his music.
After a prestigious classical career with several international awards (France, Hungary, Finland, USA), the 1er prix of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, and after having collaborated with many symphony and chamber orchestras, as well as various ensembles throughout the world, Maalouf became a well known figure on the music scene thanks to his collaboration with singers such as Sting, Amadou and Mariam, Lhasa de Sela , Salif Keita, Vanessa Paradis and many others who wanted to use his sound and his unique playing style to color their music.
Maalouf has long been one of the most sought after musicians to accompany such artists in a wide variety of styles, not only in the studios but also onstage. And yet despite the pleasure and rich artistic experience gained from working with these artists, Maalouf hasn’t been sidetracked from his own priorities: composing and developing his work in a highly personal manner so that the extent of his gifts as an instrumentalist – and the diversity of his own influences – can express themselves fully.
Maalouf was rapidly recognized by the Jazz world and his five albums were unanimously acclaimed by the national and international press. After Diasporas (2007), Diachronism (2009), Diagnostic (2011), Wind (film soundtrack-2012), and Illusions (2013) for which he received from the French Music Awards the prize of Best World Music Album.
Maalouf also composes music for symphonic orchestras, different ensembles, and film scores. His film credits include the soundtracks of Prey to the Wind, Smart Ass, Yves Saint Laurent, and Red Rose. Additionally, he teaches improvisation to all instruments in a Conservatoire Supérieur in Paris.
In 2006, Maalouf created his own label to produce his albums but also more recently to produce other projects and artists.
His release Kalthoum (2015) is a celebration of women who changed the course of history and whose artistic influence has had an impact even in our present lives. Maalouf says “I chose a symbolic figure, a true landmark in the history of the Arab people, and is also the voice that I heard the most since my infancy: Oum Kalthoum.”
Kalthoum is based on “Alf Leila Wa Leila” (“One Thousand and One Nights “), one of the biggest hits of the Egyptian diva Oum Kalthoum. Maalouf and pianist Frank Woeste “translated” the suite into a fairly conventional jazz suite, but kept its innovative blending. This 1969 song composed by Baligh Hamidi is a suite of about an hour, with a chorus of 3 minutes and couplets from 5-25 minutes. Maalouf says: “Improvisation, in the original version as in this version, is important, but this result is mostly a series of scenes in which the staging was exciting to transcribe.”
Recorded and mixed in New York with the same team as the 2011 Wind album, Kalthoum continues his collaboration with Larry Grenadier (bass), Clarence Penn (drums), Mark Turner (Saxophone) and Frank Woeste (piano).
Red & Black Light (2015) focuses on strong women using primarily an electro-pop style. The personnel features Eric Legnini (keyboards), François Delporte (guitar) Stéphane Galland (drums).
Bio adapted from the Impulse! Records description of Kalthoum and other sources.
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Ibrahim Maalouf will be making a rare US appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room on September 30th and October 1st. He’ll also be at the Monterey and San Francisco Jazz Festivals and have standalone concerts in Columbus OH; and Montreal and Quebec City, Canada. See his website for dates.
Watch Maalouf play “Red & Black Light” in this live clip.
Watch this swinging live clip of “Khaltoum”.
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.