Riptide is Atlas Maior’s fourth album proper and their eleven songs traverse American jazz, Middle Eastern and Indian traditions. It is out now in the US and out in Europe on October 18th.
The band write original melodies exploring maqamat (the Middle Eastern modal system) and harmonic progressions found in American jazz. The album sees a wide variety of rhythms played on traditional percussion instruments including the Indian tablas, Middle Eastern dumbek, Peruvian cajón, and Brazilian pandeiro.
Recorded in 2018 at Austin’s Bell Tree Studio, Riptide, is the culmination of several years of Atlas Maior’s creative process. Band members Joshua Thomson (alto saxophone), Charlie Lockwood (oud – Middle Eastern fretless lute), Josh Peters (oud), and Ted Camat (drums, percussion) are also joined by guest artists and regular contributors, including violin maestro Robert Riggio (Atash, Youssou Ndour, Fayrouz), rhythm section talents Gary Calhoun James (double bass), Tarik Hassan (double bass), and Palestinian oud player Sari Andoni.
Bandleader Thomson sees their new album as a product of “our experiences working together, and the struggles and achievements we’ve experienced as people… themes of loss, gain, resilience, and perseverance are all in there.” Thomson, originally from Detroit’s Middle Eastern suburb Dearborn, had long been converted to jazz and Middle Eastern music before relocating to Austin and co-founding the band with drummer, Ethan Vlah, from Barcelona in Spain. In Austin, there is also a rich history of oud playing.
The group was just nominated for the third consecutive year as a top five finalist in the jazz category in the 2019 Austin Music Awards. They have recently opened for internationally acclaimed artists Vieux Farka Touré, Tal National and Josh T. Pearson. During their US release earlier this year they received attention from the likes of NPR partner, PRI – and blog Earmilk praised their “beautiful” music.