Selection of the Month

Music Reminiscent of West Africa, Morocco & Arabian Peninsula

Selection of the Month: Arab & Turkish Maqamat Modal System Inspired Jazz Band Ends Tour at Asian American Resource Center

AtlasMaior MonksJazzClub Photo by Ismael QuintanillaIII Music Press Asia

Photo by Ismael QuintanillaIII.

On the heels of their debut vinyl release, Atlas Maior will be joining Nizami Qawwali at the Asian American Resource Center tomorrow (15 Jun).

This event is in collaboration with the Asian American Resource Center and Atlas Maior, with funding from the City of Austin’s Live Music Fund.

The internationally lauded global jazz ensemble Atlas Maior has presented a culmination of their creative work from 2020-2024 with their very first vinyl release Hadal Deluxe Edition.

Inspired by the global diversity and sounds from the Indian subcontinent, the event will include two 30-minute workshops, followed by a concert with Nizami Qawwali and performances by Atlas Maior.

Atlas Maior

Atlas Maior makes original music inspired by Jazz, Arab, Turkish and Latin American musical traditions.

Atlas Maior has been touring and performing compositions from the vinyl, along with new material from an upcoming album funded by the City of Austin Live Music Fund Grant. They just wrapped up an international tour with debut performances in Morocco with dates in 7 cities.

Atlas Maior release new album 2024 Music Press Asia
[Atlas Maior’s Hadal Deluxe Edition vinyl is reflective of Atlas Maior’s highly collaborative nature and features original and cross-cultural collaborative compositions. Music Press Asia]

While in Morocco, the quartet, was Joshua Thomson, Josh Peters, Josh Flowers, and Gray Parsons, and they were joined by Moroccan Gnawa musicians while in Essaouira at the Dar Souiri Cultural Center.

Additionally, they performed at the renowned American Legation in Tangier.

Atlas Maior’s New Vinyl Album – Hadal Deluxe Edition

Hadal Deluxe Edition vinyl is reflective of Atlas Maior’s highly collaborative nature and features original and cross-cultural collaborative compositions.

Side A of Hadal Deluxe Edition features their acclaimed diverse instrumental album Hadal, comprised of four songs that pivots between driving energy and moody introspection.

Informed by the Arab and Turkish maqamat/makamlar modal systems the composers Joshua Thomson and Josh Peters present this offering with rhythms reminiscent of west Africa, Morocco, and the Arabian Peninsula.

It also expands on the band’s versatility within jazz experimentalism inspired by New York’s Loft Jazz of the 1970s, and the Afrofuturist musings of Faruq Z, Bey in the 1980s.

Jun 2024 Music Press Asia Listing

The initial melody for the first song on side A, “Basalt” was written by Thomson, and heavily influenced by Ornette Coleman, as can be heard in the rubato introductory. The duo expresses, “we were very much influenced by the expansive scenic imagery of the southwest United States and the desire to be in nature, along with the theme of connection to one’s sense of self.

“Basalt” evokes a soaring sense of transcendence over buttes, rocks, and the red dust from the earth.”

Songs “Ignis Fatuus” and “Hadal,” were originally conceptualized as two movements of a larger composition. “Ignis Fatuus” is a pensive and introspectively improvised piece that follows a written form.

The improvisation foreshadows “Hadal” by including the ayyala bahriya rhythm that is used during the first half of the title track.

Atlas Maior Morocco Tour 2024 Music Press Asia
[Atlas Maior Morocco Tour 2024 Music Press Asia]

The vinyl’s B-Side continues into the group’s work with renowned Pakistani vocalist Ali Pervez Mehdi. “Nazuk” is a composition that takes its lyrics from the 19th-century Punjabi Sufi poet Khawaja Farid of the Indian subcontinent and is sung in Saraiki.

Informed by Ali Pervez Mehdi’s father, famous ghazal singer Ustad Pervez Mehdi, and the classical Sufi music and poetry form known as Kafi. The song was rearranged & re-conceptualized by Joshua Thomson (alto saxophone), and Josh Peters (oud – Middle Eastern fretless lute) and features Ali Pervez Mehdi on vocals, and piano.

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The track is bolstered by a rhythm section that includes the talents of Gary Calhoun James (double bass), and Aaron Parks (drums).

“Ya Ali” is a tune that draws on multiple music traditions and uses tools found in Pakistani ghazal, Colombian, Afro-Cuban, and progressive jazz. Rounding out the new record are two new remixes from “Jah Ali – Doctor Phono Remix” and “Ya Ali – Félix 3AM Remix” by Félix Pacheco (Cilantro Boombox).

Touring Dates:
17 April – Casablanca, MAR
18 April – Fes, MAR
20 April – Oujda, MAR
22 April – Tangier, MAR
23 April – Rabat, MAR
24 April – Marrakech, MAR at The Source
26 April – Essaouira, MAR at Dar Souiri
27 April – Essaouira, MAR – Jam Session
10 May – Barcelona, ES at BlackLab
15 May – Madrid, ES at Café Central
16 May – Madrid, ES at Café Central
7 June – Monks Jazz Club – Atlas Maior Hadal Deluxe Edition Vinyl Release Show
15 June – Asian American Resource Center with Nizami Qawwali

Touring Players

Josh Peters – oud
Joshua Thomson – alto saxophone
Josh Flowers – upright bass
Gray Parsons – drums

Track Listing

Side A
A1. Basalt 5:21
A2. Ignis Fatuus 4:43
A3 Hadal 6:55
A4. Fata Morgana 4:39
Total Time 21:40

Side B
B1. Ya Ali 4:06
B2. Nazuk 4:17
B3. Jah Ali – Doctor Phono Remix – 3:23
B4. Ya Ali – Félix 3AM Remix – 4:40
Total Time 16:26

Album Credits

Josh Peters – oud, piano
Joshua Thomson – alto saxophone
Ali Pervez Mehdi – vocals (Side A)
Aaron Parks – drums
Stefan Del Bosque – drums (Side A)
Tarik Hassan – double bass (Side A)
Gary Calhoun James – double bass (Side B)
Claudio Ramirez – Jah Ali – Doctor Phono Remix
Félix Pacheco – Ya Ali – Félix 3AM Remix

The new record – Hadal Deluxe Edition – is now available for purchase here.

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