Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



Ibrahim Maalouf: Barbican, London 11/07/22

IM 1
IM 1

An eager crowd of fans packed the Barbican and rightly so, this enterprising artist makes scarce trips to the UK. It was way back in 2016 when I first encountered this charismatic character at The Love Supreme Festival and I don’t remember it sounding like tonight!

For those not in the know, Maalouf was born in Beirut and now resides in Paris. He is, without doubt, the virtuoso of the quarter-tone trumpet, which allows him to work with the maqam, or system of melodic modes inside Arabic music. His father, the renowned classical trumpeter Nassim Maalouf has been his guiding light and Maalouf pays healthy respect to his musical ancestry but now, very much mixes hip-hop and rock guitar into the fray.

Ibrahim did not play it safe tonight he chose a largely unknown set by previewing songs from his forthcoming and seventeenth album "Capacity To Love" (which will be out November 2022). It paid off because the material is gripping. Tough beats and grooves mixing electronic with live drumming courtesy of the emphatic Henry Was on drums. A unique drummer in the vein of say, Stewart Copeland. His tribal approach was the perfect accompaniment to the groove which was ferocious at times and his drum solo was quite simply breathtaking!

A musician’s musician such as Ibrahim surrounds himself with the best and the ensemble work of this well-honed group was first class. Guitarist Francois Delporte (who happens to have the same gestures of Flea) showed off his fierce technique and musicality and plays a good straight man when Maalouf goes gloriously off piste mucking around with him playing snippets of crowd-pleasing mainstream songs
which broke up the show rather nicely.

The main part of the show was dominated by surging and thunderous horn blasts of Arabic riffage that is frankly intoxicating The exotic scales hit home over the heavy urban grooves and were distinctly mesmerising long after the concert ended. Special mention must go to the sax player who totally blew my mind with his eastern playing it was primal and sounded like a duduk rather than a horn! When the three horn players got into their stride they could have easily brought down the walls of Jericho. Keyboard player Frank Woeste came into his element too especially when duetted with the star trumpeter. Ibrahim speaks from the soul on these quieter occasions and it’s also meditative for the audience.

Suffice to say, his fans lapped it up, he can do no wrong in their eyes as he is a unique performer and much in demand. His purchase is high at the moment having done an excellent album with world music star, Angélique Kidjo and this new offering could well break him further into the mainstream - he certainly deserves this
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter