Critical Acclaim for Rivers of Sound

06.01.17
Amir ElSaffar's Rivers of Sound Orchestra

“In Rivers of Sound, Mr. ElSaffar’s 17-piece ensemble, rhythm is a load-bearing vehicle, steadily carrying his compositions across land and sea. The pulse changes hands often, Mr. ElSaffar’s trumpet working in an exchange with the tabla and the guitar and the buzuq, a stringed instrument from the eastern Mediterranean. Rivers of Sound brings together virtuosos from Middle Eastern, South Asian and Western jazz traditions, and its music has a liquid quality: It’s full of momentum, but not in the way of a single moving thing. Instead, it seems to flow and spill across bounds.”
The New York Times

“Rivers of Sound flows in a flux of ever-shifting colors, with bold brass fanfares giving way to classically Middle Eastern sounding strings and sinuous reed melodies evolving patiently over unhurried, swinging rhythms that are accented by the dieting tonality of frame drum and dumbek…with Not Two [ElSaffar] has moved beyond building bridges; his music has become the river.”
Downbeat Magazine

“a towering statement of purpose—wise to many traditions, even while it remains accessible to anyone”
Pitchfork Magazine

“Refrains build and fall, textured timbres churn, trance like waves swell and crest. The rivers motif is fitting — there’s something liquid about these breaking waves of sound, a liquidity to these cascading drops of simple repeating melodic fragments.”
The National, Abu Dhabi