I discovered Ibrahim Maalouf after a conversation with Milwaukee Symphony trumpeter Dennis Najoom in which we discussed upcoming trumpet stars. Dennis enjoyed the 4 valve trumpet and the Lebanese/Jazz hybrid that is unique to Maalouf’s style and thought I would dig it. A couple weeks later I came across this great story on NPR that discussed Maalouf and interviewed him about his musical ideas and influences. Shortly after I picked up the album on iTunes and fell in love with the tune Surprises, which I have transcribed for this week.
This ballad is so simple, yet so beautiful at the same time. By starting out without chords Ibrahim allows the piano and bass to fill the harmony and set the mood for the tune without being overbearing. The arpeggio in the piano builds suspense before resolving to the 3rd of the chord, and this ostinato comes back throughout the chart. After building with repetition the melody is finally introduced, although not completely as the band continues to taunt the listener and going back to the beginning vamp several times before playing the head in it’s entirety. Solos are on the form of the full head and then the head is played continuous on the way out. I really enjoy the harmonic structure through 3rd relationships for this composition which is something I use in my own writing. 3rd relationships with chords are a great alternative to using traditional ii-V-I cadence and remove the V7 suspension allowing the improviser a different approach to playing melodic lines.
Download the transcription below the video!