NAISSAM JALAL: The World of Naïssam Jalal

MARTYNA KIELEK / Senior Music Editor

Discovering Naïssam Jalal has been a rather magical experience, as she amazed me with the uniqueness of her musical universe. Born in Paris of Syrian parents, she is a composer, a singer, and a flute player, versed both in the European variety of the instrument and the Middle Eastern end-blown flute called ney. She creates and performs jazz, hip hop and funk music, with elements of World Music weaved all throughout her work.

She has collaborated with musicians from Mali, Lebanon, and Nigeria, to only quote a few. In 2012, she wrote the soundtrack for a documentary called La femme à la caméra.

She has been featured in over a dozen studio albums so far, including six with her own name on the cover.

Her 2021 release, recorded with her quintet Rhythms of Resistance, is called Un Autre Monde – Another World – and it certainly has an otherworldly quality to it.

Here are a few tracks from Naïssam Jalal I hand-picked for your listening pleasure.

The first one is off her 2019 album Quest of the invisible. Le chant des nuages is an instrumental piece, which perfectly combines jazzy rhythms, oscillating between dynamism and melancholy, and Jalal’s dreamy flute-playing.

Next, the 2018 live performance of the magnificent piece Le Temps,of which the studio version would end up on the aforementioned album.

Hymne à la noix isa vibrant 7-minute jazz track from her latest release, featuring Jalal’s signature flute-playing.

And the last one, Un sourire au coeur from the same album, which showcases Jalal’s talents as an instrumentalist and a singer alike. It is less jazzy and more strongly inspired by folk and world music.

Recently, her talent has been recognised by the jury of the French Victoires du Jazz awards, who nominated her in the “Best instrumental artist” category. Incidentally, Quest of the invisible was the winner of the 2019 edition, in the category Album inclassable, meaning The Album that Cannot Be Categorised. The name seems to capture rather perfectly the quintessence of Jalal’s work and I do hope she continues to elude all attempts at classification for years to come.

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