Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Zoe Rahman's new album

Fresh, Energetic and all that Jazz

With the release of her second album, “Melting Pot”, the jazz pianist and composer Zoe Rahman has further confirmed her place as one of the most talented and inspiring young musicians on the contemporary British jazz scene. It is a real pleasure to listen to Rahman’s assured musicianship with its freshness of spirit creating intriguing rhythms and haunting melodies.

Rahman’s performance with the other members of her trio, American drummer Gene Calderazzo and double bass player Oli Hayhurst, has a driving sense of energy, yet also a reflective and transcendent quality.

The tracks have a variety of styles and moods; the third, “Shiraz”, is compelling with its poignant repeated melody from which Rahman’s playing soars. On track 4, the jauntily choppy piece “The Calling”, Rahman is joined by Patrick Illingworth on drums and Jeremy Brown on double bass.

All but one of the tracks were written by Rahman. The exception is the final track, the Bengali song “Muchhe Jaoa Dinguli”, written by the singer and composer Hemant Mukherjee. Zoe’s brother Idris renders the vocal line on clarinet, and Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale Itauna plays the udu drum.

Rahman was born in the city of Chichester, near the southern English coast, to a father from Bangladesh and an English mother. She studied music at Oxford University, and her classical music training is in evidence in the excellence of her technique.

After Oxford she went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, where she had lesson with the legendary pianist JoAnne Brackeen. While in the USA she formed her own trio, with bassist Joshua Davis and the drummer Bob Moses.

In 1999 Rahman won the Perrier Young Jazz Musician of the Year Award. As a result of that award she recorded three tracks on a Jazz FM-produced compilation CD with drummer Daniel Crosby and bassist Orlando Le Fleming.

Her debut trio album, “The Cynic”, with drummer Winston Clifford and bassist Jeremy Brown, was short-listed for the BBC Radio 3 jazz album of the year review in 2001. She was then nominated in the “Rising Star” category of the 2001 BBC Jazz Awards.

Rahman is a graceful presence on stage, with her slender form, fine features and wide smile. As well as performing with her own trio and other ensembles, she performs records and tours with a range of other artists. Recent CDs on which she appears include the Clark Tracey Quintet’s “The Calling”, Palestinian singer Reem Kelani’s “Sprinting Gazelle”, Soothsayers’ “Tangled Roots”, Tony Bianco’s “In A Western Sense” and Gary Boyle’s “Games”.

She also co-wrote and played piano in the jazz-based theatre show “I’m a Fool to Want You”, based on the life of the French novelist, poet, jazz musician and surrealist Boris Vian.

Excerpts from “Melting Pot” can be heard at www.zoerahman.com

Susannah Tarbush
Saudi Gazette
20 December 2005

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