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Off Minor

Artist: Zaid Nasser
Zaid Nasser - Off Minor CD
Label: Smalls
Regular Price: $12.95
On Sale For: $6.48 
Year: 2008
Format: CD


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'Having just returned from a three-week tour of the Mediterranean and Central Asia, I want to remark on the performance of Zaid Nasser as a cultural ambassador. The contrast of his easygoing, sincere demeanor and compelling saxophone concept brought universal admiration from the various musicians, diplomats and audiences that he met along the way. At one point, a nickname was tagged to Zaid: "The King." I believe it's not the last time King Zaid will be improving the image of our country, passport in one hand, saxophone in the other. He's a natural.'

As a cultural ambassador, Zaid has more to teach us about than just diplomacy, and fans of music from hip-hop to bebop should equally take note. What ties these two seemingly disparate styles together is partly the beat, but at a deeper level, it is also the rhyme. Clearly, the rhyming nature in the poetry of hip-hop is apparent to all, producing a rich fabric of layered rhythm and accentuation that builds suspense and emotional fulfillment. What is less apparent is the extent to which this figures into the long tradition of bebop (extended into modern jazz) improvisation. While the human mind readily grasps similarities in word sounds deployed in a rhythmic context, it is important to note that these similarities are in reality just similarities in the properties of sound, and this can involve properties other than phonological properties. In music, the qualities of pitch, harmonic-degree, and thematic content all figure into the aesthetic picture, and the rhyming character of instrumental music emerges out of these sonic qualities. The perception of these qualities is partly innate (as perhaps the mind's way of cognitively coordinating events in time having a periodic nature), but is also enhanced dramatically with experience and with musical training. You simply have to walk before you can run. Perhaps it is the element of achievement that makes it so difficult for many to see the similarities between these two musics. But there is no denying in the end that bebop has produced one of the richest forms yet devised for conveying coded cultural meanings in a poetic context. In this regard, Zaid Nasser excels as virtually no one else has, and his rich improvisations, while obviously great from the first listening, typically reveal their real secrets increasingly over time. Beyond that, we'll let the music speak for itself.
Zaid Nasser (alto sax); Sacha Perry (piano); Ari Roland (bass); Phil Stewart (drums)
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