Since releasing Finding My Way Home in 2011, British-Bahraini trumpet player, Yazz Ahmed, has emerged as a distinctive voice on the UK Jazz scene, both as a soloist and composer.
Her new album, La Saboteuse, is a deep exploration of her mixed heritage and her growing interest in sound design and electronic effects. The album has been described as ‘intoxicating, compelling and sonically outstanding’, and transforming what jazz means in the 21st century.
In recent years she has lead her quartet and her seven-piece, Ahmed Family Hafla, in concerts around the UK and abroad, including Kuwait, Ukraine, Algeria and at the 2016 Berlin Jazz festival.
She has played alongside Toshiko Akiyoshi, Steve Williamson, Courtney Pine, Troyk-estra, Jazz Jamaica, The Human Revolution Orchestra, and Arun Ghosh.
Yazz has also recorded and performed with Radiohead, Max Romeo, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, ABC, Swing Out Sister, Joan as Police Woman, Amel Zen and has toured the world with art-rock band, These New Puritans, as a soloist and member of their septet and quintet.
She plays flugelhorn on Radiohead’s album_ The King of Limbs_ and The King Of Limbs Live From The Basement, which was screened worldwide during July 2011.
In 2012, Yazz represented Bahrain in London’s Cultural Olympiad, joining renowned musicians from the Arabian Gulf in collaboration with Transglobal Underground. This project, In Transit, was supported by the British Council and was performed in Dubai and London.
In November 2012, Yazz was selected by Tomorrow’s Warriors to participate in a cultural exchange project, Interplay, where she collaborated with jazz artists from the UK and Sweden. Her collaborators included Denys Baptiste, Gary Crosby, Samuel Hallkvist, Ira Mogilevsky and Michala Ostergaard-Nielsen.
The Hafla band performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 2014, featuring the premiere of Yazz’s commissioned piece, Whispering Gallery, funded by Serious and EFG London Jazz Festival.
Yazz was awarded a jazz fellowship from Birmingham Jazzlines in 2014, who supported her during the course of a year in writing a major new suite, Alhaan al Siduri, premiered in October 2015 at the CBSO Centre. One year later the second performance marked Yazz’s debut in her paternal homeland at the Bahrain International Music Festival.
In 2015, she was commissioned by Tomorrow’s Warriors with the support of PRS Women Make Music to write a suite inspired by courageous and influential female role models. Polyhymnia was premiered at the Purcell Room by a special all female line-up of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra at the WOW! Festival in March 2015.
Yazz received a second commission in 2015 from the Tomorrow’s Warriors to write music for their youth jazz orchestra drawing on tales of migration, family traditions, cultural mysteries and myths in a celebration of cultural diversity and the changing face of post-war Britain.
During her recent year as an LSO Soundhub composer, she explored writing music for her newly developed quarter-tone flugelhorn to enable her to get closer to the spiritual nature of the blue notes in Arabic music.
Yazz is supported by PRS For Music Foundation and has recently been awarded funding towards recording her Polyhymnia suite.