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Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble
Sunday, October 26, 2008 - 7:00pm
AmirElSaffar.jpgWhat: The Portland State University Middle East Studies Center, the Lewis & Clark College Music Department and the Arab-American Cultural Center present an evening of music from Amir ElSaffar and his sextet, the Two Rivers Ensemble, which includes Rudresh Mahanthappa (saxophone), Nasheet Waits (drums), Carlo DeRosa (bass), Tareq Abboushi (buzuq and percussion), and Zaafir Tawil (oud, violin and dumbek).

The Al-Andalus Ensemble will open. Featured in Al-Andalus are native Moroccan Tarik Banzi (oud, ney, percussion), from India, Ranjani Krishnan (vocals in Tamil, Ladino Sephardic Jewish, Urdu, Classical Arabic, Spanish & Hindu) from Peru, Martin Zarzar (percussion), Joe Heinemann (jazz piano) & Julia Banzi (Flamenco guitar).

When: Sunday, October 26, 2008, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Evans Auditorium, Lewis & Clark College (0615 SW Palatine Hill Road).

Cost: Tickets are $15 general, $10 student/senior. A limited number of free tickets are available for full-time PSU and Lewis & Clark students (one free ticket per student). Tickets are available at the door or through the PSU Middle East Studies Center, the Lewis & Clark Bookstore and the Lewis & Clark Music Department main office. Free campus parking is available.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the PSU Middle East Studies Center at 503-725-4074 or e-mail

Background: Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar put his New York career on hold in 2002 to immerse himself in the music of his ancestry, the Iraqi Maqam. Already an accomplished jazz and classical trumpeter, having performed with esteemed artists and having won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet competition, ElSaffar traveled to Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, learning from masters of the centuries-old tradition; he found ways to adapt the microtones and ornaments to his trumpet playing. He went on to learn to play the santoor (Iraqi hammered dulcimer) and to sing, and he now leads the only ensemble in the US performing Iraqi Maqam, Safaafir. The sextet melds styles and cross-pollinates the languages of ancient and modern, East and West. ElSaffar's compositions are some of the first in the history of jazz to make use of Arabic modality and its non-western tunings. This ensemble has researched ancient practices that have been lost in recent generations, and is now reviving these sounds, while continuing the legacy of the great masters of the Maqam tradition. For information about the musicians, visit

Al-Andalus is an ensemble that focuses on music inspired by Moorish-ruled Spain during the 8th to 15th centuries when Muslims, Jews and Christians peacefully coexisted side by side in an inspired cultural exchange of the sciences and arts. The ensemble has a graceful and distinctive sound that straddles continents in its cultural voice and centuries in its array of techniques. For more information about Al-Andalus, visit