Through her music, British-Bahraini trumpet player, Yazz Ahmed, seeks to blur the lines between jazz and electronic sound design, bringing together the sounds of her mixed heritage in what has been described as ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz, intoxicating and compelling’.
Over the last decade, Yazz has led her ensembles in performances across the UK & Europe, and further afield in Algeria, Bahrain, Beirut, Kuwait, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA & Canada. She has also enchanted audiences at major festivals such as WOMAD, Love Supreme, NYC Winter Jazz Fest & Pori Jazz.
Her career is studded with high profile collaborations, which have seen her record and perform with the likes of Radiohead, Lee Scratch Perry, Transglobal Underground, Arturo O’Farrill, Natacha Atlas, and Obongjayar, including a world tour with These New Puritans.
It was Yazz’s self-released debut album, Finding My Way Home, 2011, which saw her first explorations of Arabic music, introduced her as an innovative performer and composer, and led Jazzwise Magazine to mark her out as ‘one to watch’. However, it was her second album, La Saboteuse, (Naim Records, 2017), which made a global impact, clocking up multiple rave reviews and making many ‘best of 2017’ lists around the world, including Jazz Album of the Year in The Wire magazine, and achieving the number 18 spot in Bandcamp’s top 100 albums (all genres).
In between releasing Finding My Way Home and La Saboteuse, Yazz received support from Jazzlines at Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham, to write her suite, Alhaan al Siduri, premiered in October 2015 at CBSO Centre, Birmingham. This music is influenced by Yazz’s Bahraini roots, drawing from the folk music of the Bahraini pearl divers and traditional wedding songs sung by the women drumming groups. The second performance of this suite marked Yazz’s debut in her paternal homeland, at the Bahrain International Music Festival, 2016.
Yazz’s 2019 album, Polyhymnia, (Ropeadope Records) built on her growing reputation as a notable composer with a strong individual voice, a figure at the heart of the exciting UK scene. Evolving from a performance on International Women’s Day in 2015, commissioned by Tomorrow’s Warriors, the music takes the form of a suite written in celebration of courageous and inspiring women and features an extended ensemble of 25 musicians.
In January 2020 Downbeat Magazine named Yazz as one of 25 artists set to shape the future of jazz over the next decade. The year culminated with the receipt of the highly prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Innovation.
In November 2020 Yazz released Polyhymnia Remixed, tand in 2021 she released “Solo 7”s Vol.1”, a single featuring two tracks recorded at home, inspired by Yazz’s experience of performing solo sets during the pandemic.
As live work returned in 2021, she collaborated with Yazz’s quintet and the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, performing new orchestrations of her works as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival for BBC Radio 3.
In 2022, Yazz was commissioned by Blue Note Records to arrange and record a track for the second Blue Note Re:imagined series. Yazz’s Turikish-proggy-jazz take on Chick Corea’s It, which featured his long-time collaborator, Tim Garland, on bass clarinet.