Review by Matt Cole
Inana is a new release from Iraqi-American musician Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble. ElSaffar is one of a number of musicians, notably including Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa, who are finding new and creative ways to combine modern jazz with the music of their respective cultural backgrounds. In ElSaffar’s case, the background is Iraqi Maqam, a rich tradition which is considered the most perfect form of maqam. Maqam is highly modal, and mainly melody-oriented; rhythm is fluid and harmony, like in Indian music, is secondary at best.