Trumpeter Yazz Ahmed is known as the high priestess of psychedelic Arabic jazz. Though born in England, she spent part of her childhood in Bahrain, and her music is infused with Arabic scales and other regional influences.
As a female instrumentalist, Ahmed has weathered many challenges and prejudices, with most people assuming she is a singer. As a result, as she wrote in an article for The Vinyl Factory, she was forced to start her own band to get her voice heard. Her perseverance is paying off, with her own ensembles but also through work with Lee “Scratch” Perry and Radiohead.
Her aptly named debut, Finding My Way Home, was released in 2011. The Guardian noted, her “her warm sound, poised phrasing, and mix of north African and bebop influences.” The album featured some funky jazz as well as a flugelhorn and bass duet. Her most recent release, La Saboteuse hit in May 2017.
In its review of La Saboteuse, Jazz Views asked, “Is there a more imaginative, inspirational and visionary musician working in the UK today than the British/Bahrani trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer, Yazz Ahmed?” The review concludes, “In summary, La Saboteuse is a fantastic album on so many levels. It is subtle, nuanced, balanced, graceful, mystical, passionate and heartfelt. The playing is faultless from beginning to end and it is sonically perfect.” Music doesn’t get much better than that.