Ibrahim Maalouf has just completed his third album in a triptych of music. Diagnostic is the final piece in the set, released on Harmonia Mundi / Mi’ster Productions. Maalouf is a composer and master trumpet player who was born in Lebanon and is based in France. He can jump between styles with ease, incorporating a diverse array of instruments into each of his compositions. On Diagnostic Maalouf hired Zalindê, a 17-member, all-female, Brazilian-style batucada ensemble to pound out heavy rhythms. When the time came to record this album, Maalouf composed and played most of the parts in the studio.
“For Diagnostic, I wanted to take the minimum of things, only things that were the most important for me. Even each track is dedicated and inspired by somebody very close to me: My sisters, daughter, mother, and father. And of course Beirut, my hometown.” – Ibrahim Maalouf
Ibrahim Maalouf was surrounded by music as child, growing up around noted artists, musicians, and intellectuals. His father Nassim, a respected trumpet player, introduced Ibrahim to the four-valve quartertone trumpet. He took his first cues from his father, but within no time Ibrahim began to play Arab scales in his own way. The rest is history. Although he is classically trained, Maalouf doesn’t consider himself a classical performer or jazz musician. He doesn’t even consider himself a trumpet player.
“For twenty years, I played classical trumpet at a very high level, and it would be a big waste of time not to use this instrument that I know so well. But trumpet isn’t the principal actor in my albums; there’s no principal actor, anyway. It’s a mix of many instruments, many colors and styles. And this mix comes from all that is around me.” – Ibrahim Maalouf
A mix of styles indeed. One of the most rewarding things about listening to Diagnostic for the first time is trying to figure out where Maalouf is going next as he jumps from Balkan Brass to Latin beats to Andean folk music all in the blink of an eye. Beirut, Paris and New York have a rich history of culture which you can hear on this record. While Maalouf may be more concerned with the compositional side of things, his trumpet playing is phenomenal, driving the album forward and connecting all the pieces together. This is a remarkable record that deserves plenty of spins. It gets better every time you hear it. Watch a powerful performance of “Lily / Will Soon Be a Woman” from ArtRock 2012 below and pick up Diagnostic today. Maalouf will be performing on June 21 at Drom and as part of Make Music New York at the French Embassy cultural services. You can’t afford to miss Ibrahim Maalouf live.