Roots Music Report reviews Ahmed Warshanna’s Ishta

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Ahmed Warshanna

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Written by Joe Ross
May 10, 2021 – 4:06pm EDT

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Based in Baltimore, guitarist Ahmed Warshanna holds a degree in Jazz Studies, and his debut album Ishta demonstrates his unique compositional and arranging skills informed by a passion for combining element of both the East and West into his music. The five tracks, each ranging from 7-10 minutes in length, create aural experiences that range from plaintive (“Azra’”) to exhilarating (“Intisar”). The first two tracks, Warshanna’s arrangements of classics by Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, set the stage with intrigue, using Middle Eastern scales with resonant chords and rhythmic percussive sounds. Arranged for septet, the guitarist’s music also showcases the musicianship of Hart Guonjian-Pettit (trumpet), Dominic Ellis (tenor), Daniel Sperlein (trombone), Joshua Miller (piano), Thomas Owens (bass) and Charlie Seda (drums). Kulthum was known to sing her songs at length and in depth, and Warshanna takes a similar approach with his septet’s instruments. Ishta has plenty of atmospheric instrumental dynamics, but perhaps some vocals and ud could’ve been used to make them even more mysterious. Warshanna’s music may be rooted in the organic Egyptian earth, but it also conveys his uncompromising, honest desire to make a transcendent contemporary statement. The album is a tribute to Ahmed’s mother who passed away in 2021. She brought music into his life, and he acknowledges that this music was inspired by her and that she’ll live on through his music. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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