MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

New from Kinan Azmeh: FLOW

The clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh has just released a marvelous new studio album, FLOW, with the NDR Bigband. Recorded in October 2020 at Hamburg’s North German Broadcasting (NDR) Studio 1, the album presents a collaboration between Azmeh and the improvisatory jazz playing of the NDR Bigband musicians, with arrangements by Wolf Kerschek.

“Jazz has been an incredible vessel in accommodating and hosting other world music traditions,” says Azmeh, who was raised in Damascus, Syria, and is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School. A member of the Silkroad Ensemble and other formations, Azmeh is a powerful new-music advocate and international performer. “[Jazz] does that so naturally by blurring the lines between the composed and the improvised,” he adds, “and also by celebrating the sound and ideas of every individual…. For me, the NDR Bigband is not only a jazz ensemble; I see it as a great and flexible collective of composers, arrangers, improvisers, instrumentalists, and human beings.”

FLOW includes Azmeh’s Clarinet Concerto, whose premiere in 2019 I reviewed, along with The Canteen, Little Red Riding Hood, And We Are All Optimistic, Daraa, Jisreen, Rituals, and Love on 139th Street in D.

“While I use seemingly contrasting music vocabularies I try to stay honest, real and true to myself and to the ideas I am trying to convey,” says Azmeh. “I believe that art is humanity’s most important product. I also think that people who experience art on a deep level, whether they are artists or art lovers, have a more profound understanding of themselves, their surroundings, other cultures, and the human condition at large; which in turn can translate into more understanding and compassionate societies.”

Filed under: Kinan Azmeh, recommended listening


%d bloggers like this: