One of the most surprising performances I saw at the North Sea Jazz festival was a French-Lebanese trumpet player named Ibrahim Maalouf. He plays a trumpet with a special additional fourth valve — three is standard — that allows him to more easily play Arabic maqams or scales with quarter tone and three quarter tone intervals along with equal temperament western ones, like Don Ellis. He also has a way of playing that sounds most like singing in his inflections and vibrato.
This is the best video I could find of one song he did called “Beirut,” and I’m amazed it only has 475 views. It’s worth 12 minutes out of your day, especially when it amps up at the end.
The only word for the crowd was “pandemonium” — I’ve never seen a jazz audience react to music like that; it reminded me of the famous Duke Ellington / Paul Gonsalves performance and the riot that followed.
The audience on Saturday went totally bonkers, and the band did some even wilder songs to close including with jazz bagpipe (gaita?), which reminded me of Cristina Pato. Here’s a video of a similar end, but it’s a much more subdued crowd:
Amazing music, and also a good reminder of the power of a live performance, where a great artist can feed off the audience and vice versa. I wouldn’t mind going to a few more jazz shows where people are unafraid to hoot and holler and move a bit.
If you ever have a chance to see Ibrahim Maalouf live, I recommend it. It looks like he uses WordPress for his site, too, which makes him doubly cool.