Miles Davis’ “Générique” floats in like he was blowing fog through his trumpet.
It’s a surreal, beautiful, late-night ode to the night itself and all its pain and delight. To stretch that feeling over an entire album, rather than three minutes, would be a Herculean task of skill and restraint. And yet, La Saboteuse exists.
Yazz Ahmed’s document of psychedelic, Bahraini-inspired Jazz feels and sounds like nothing else in its genre. In a decade that saw Jazz reborn and reimagined through the fertile chaos of Hip-hop, Minimalism, Afrobeat, Caribbean swing and Cuban rhythms, Ahmed crafted a myth of dream-like quality. So hear our interview with Yazz, read our thoughts on her work and see why it’s the best of the 10s.
Yazz Ahmed weaves myths with her horns. The legend of Gilgamesh, the tales of John Coltrane, of her family in Bharani, of her own struggle to combat her insecurities as they take the form, all flow through La Saboteuse. And La Saboteuse isn’t just an album, but a character. The manifestation of self-doubt that hovers at the edge of every song, claiming to be a friend, but cutting down every inch of joy or creativity within reach.
But Ahmed has skillfully bested her shadow. La Saboteuse is a triumph, easily casting itself in the pantheon of Jazz greats, for both its ambition and execution. Snaking, sneaky, ambient interludes drift in like smoke before the haze clears for monstrous tracks to glide into earshot. The technical chops on display on the mammoth “Jamil Jamal” or “The Lost Pearl” are breath taking, but only if you know where to look. On a simpler level, this is enchanting, late night music that floats on the liminal space between dreams and reality. And for sheer, unconquered beauty, there are few albums of any genre that reach these heady heights. Ahmed, in diving deep within herself, comes back up for air with a mysterious, wondrous artifact humming in her hands.