October 11th saw the release of British-Bahraini trumpet player and composer Yazz Ahmed's third album, Polyhymnia. The album, released by Ropeadope Records, was originally commissioned in 2015 by jazz music education and artistic development organisation Tomorrow's Warriors, and performed by their NU orchestra on International Woman's Day.
Drawing inspiration from the Greek Goddess of music, poetry and art Polyhymnia, Yazz's album is a six-track body of work dedicated to her heroins with whom she has felt a deep connection in various ways and at different points of her life. Opening with a plaudit to Saudi Arabia's first female film director Haifaa Al Mansour, and featuring tributes to other universally-esteemed women - namely Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, Ruby Bridges, and Barbara Thompson -, the album is a commemoration of female bravery.
Beginning airily, Polyhymnia quickly adopts a heroic ardour. "One Girl Among Many" features a staccato chant - "So here I stand, So here I stand, One girl among many." Featuring her signature quarter-tone flugelhorn, Yazz's track "2857" conveys the same commendable message instrumentally. This stance contrasts that of her previous album released in 2017, La Saboteuse. Cryptic throughout, Polyhymnia's antecedent is a sonic expression of the various facets of her inner nemesis. While the album too starts lightly, it takes a dark turn at the onset of the title track which - featuring the flugelhorn amid self-observing vocals -, is an expression of Yazz's internal demons. La Saboteuse's psychedelic counterpart, La Saboteuse Remixed, comprises the prominent electronic DJs Hector Plimmer, DJ Khalab and Blacksea Nao Maya, and it is - to say the least - innovative.
Conceptually, Polyhymnia represents Yazz's release from darkness and launch into creativity. Musically, the new release constitutes a milestone in the evolution of the artist's psychedelic, Arabic jazz sound, and an affirmation of her long-term mission to blur the lines between electronic music and jazz.