Ibrahim Maalouf Brings his Quarter-Tone Trumpet to LA

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Ibrahim Maalouf isn’t a household name in most music circles, unless maybe you live in Paris and are a jazz fan.  He’s an interesting trumpet player in that he improvises on a quarter-tone trumpet.  Western ears may think something’s wrong when he goes between the notes in our European 12-note scale, but any lover of Arabic music knows that’s where the gestalt and the juice is in Arabic music.  Indian music too.  It’s a bold and daring challenge to fuse jazz and arabic music, and Maalouf proves it’s not only possible but very satisfying as well.

Ibrahim is the son of Nassim Maalouf, who the foremost French classical trumpeter Maurice André once said was one of the greatest trumpet players of a generation.   High praise indeed.  The only other quarter-tone trumpet players are Jon Hassell and the earlier jazz player Don Ellis.  Hassell is known for his exotic soundscapes, which are enhanced by his playing the Arabic trumpet.

Maalouf is of Lebanese descent, hence the Arabic trumpet, which of course came from his dad too.  His new album Wind is the soundtrack to the 1927 René Clair film La Proie du Vent (The Prey of the Wind).  His inspiration comes from Miles Davis’ classic soundtrack to Louis Malle’s first film, the 1957 film l’Ascenseur Pour l’Échafaud (Lift to the Scaffold) starring Jeanne Moreau.  Both Maalouf’s and Miles soundtracks capture the mood and suspense of the respective films they underscore.  Miles loved France;  Maalouf loves Miles.  It’s a nice connection.

Ibrahim Maalouf comes to LA this Thursday, 1/10 at the Theatre Raymond Kabbaz, part of Ruth Price and Jeff Gauthier’s Jazz Bakery series.  From LA he goes to New York City for a show January 11th at the Poisson Rouge, followed by a January 14th show at the Lycée Français in New York City.

The LA show features a heavyweight group backing him:  Larry Grenadier, bass, Clarence Penn, drums, Mark Turner, sax, and Frank Woeste.  This is an A list to top contemporary musicians if there ever was one.

here’s the link to the LA show:


and an EPK of the new sountrack, Wind:  here the top jazz cats in the band mentioned above talk about hearing his music……..