Excited to be involved in this project with Emad Armoush and friends! I’ve been playing with Emad for many years in Gordon Grdina’s Haram, and it was a blast to interpret the music he chose for this project! We recorded the album last fall at Afterlife Studios with John Raham. Looking forward to playing with Rayhan at the upcoming Vancouver Jazz Fest 2021! Here’s some info on the new album, entitled Fragrance…

Emad Armoush’s Rayhan

Emad Armoush, oud/ney/guitar/vocals
JP Carter, trumpet/electronics
François Houle, bass clarinet/clarinet
Jesse Zubot, violin/effects
Kenton Loewen, drums

In May 2021, multi-instrumentalist Emad Armoush launches Fragrance, the debut CD recorded with his stellar band Rayhan, featuring trumpeter JP Carter, clarinetist François Houle, violinist Jesse Zubot and drummer Kenton Loewen.
Armoush plays the oud, ney (ancient middle-eastern flute), flamenco guitar and sings, drawing from the great tradition of Arabic songs and infusing them with contemporary interpretations and influences of the diverse music that he has explored throughout his life.
The music on Fragrance is drawn from the traditional Arabic and Middle Eastern repertoire of Armoush’s childhood in Damascus, Syria, music to which he is deeply attached and has performed throughout his life. He brings his enormous experience in different settings with musicians from his own culture and from others such as flamenco and Roma.
Ten years ago, he met and began performing with some of the great musicians and master improvisers that are now part of Rayhan. Coming together at Afterlife Studios in 2020, the ensemble has recorded music filled with intensity, sonic colouring, thematic and far-reaching improvisations infused with modern electronic manipulations, all without losing the delicate beauty and authenticity of these old melodies. Armoush is a musical explorer, allowing his music and the members of his ensemble to transcend boundaries between tradition and contemporary sounds and to absorb and transform all the influences they have encountered as travellers.
He chose some of the best traditional songs that he knows and loves to be recorded by these highly creative musicians and interpreters. “These songs have simple structures, but great melodic lines and hip rhythms which I felt will allow us as an ensemble to bring in the sonic texturing, thematic improvisation, rhythmic manipulation, and the individual freedom of musical expression which we desire. The arrangements for the songs had certain things set and directions to go by, but were also loose and improvised. And the musicians truly listening, and communicating with each other was at the core of creating the music on the album.
I think this album is a real success of creative improvising musicians taking traditional repertoire and creating a truly original perspective. This is the beginning of our future as a group. We now have this wonderful recording and room to grow, to play in a way that we like, that is musically rich and nourishing.”

Fragrance is available for purchase on Bandcamp & Emad’s website

Emad Armoush’s Rayhan play the 2021 Vancouver Jazz Festival on July 29th at Performance Works, 2:30pm. INFO