Amir ElSaffar & the Two Rivers Ensemble | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Amir ElSaffar & the Two Rivers Ensemble 

When: 2009
Price: $12
Anyone who’s been following my writing in the Reader knows how impressed I am by Amir ElSaffar. The former Chicagoan, who plays trumpet and santoor and also sings, has forged a stunning hybrid of postbop and Iraqi maqam—his 2007 album Two Rivers (Pi) was a genuine paradigm shifter, and even now I still discover fresh nuances every time I listen to it. The excellent sextet that made the record played in town last summer, but only as the core of a 15-piece big band fleshed out by locals from the jazz and Arabic-music scenes. This weekend ElSaffar is finally giving that lean working ensemble its Chicago debut; it’ll be a quintet with reedist Rudresh Mahanthappa, bassist Carlo DeRosa, drummer Nasheet Waits, and violinist and oudist Zafer Tawil, since buzuq player and hand percussionist Tareq Abboushi can’t make it. —Peter Margasak

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