Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble: Heliopolis
"Holiday Records present the first ever authorized reissue Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble's Heliopolis, originally released in 1970. Released under license from the artist. One of the great projects in Egyptian jazz, the Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble was formed by Salah Ragab and Hartmut Geerken as an avant-garde offshoot of The Cairo Jazz Band, the first jazz big band in the country.
Formed in 1968 when Ragab was appointed chief of Egypt's Military Department of Music and had at his disposal a vast staff of musicians (almost three thousand!), an entire military building, and a full range collection of musical instruments. When encountering this recording, issued in 1970, the deep resonance found between the ensemble and its American counterparts becomes startlingly clear.
Heliopolis is a stunning blend of big band spiritual jazz, the music of the Middle East, and the fire and energy of free jazz, unveiling a deep creative resonance with the contemporaneous efforts of Pharaoh Sanders, Phil Cohran, and of course Sun Ra, combining jazz instrumentation and musical style with indigenous melodies and instruments to create a musical object with few parallels. The album is a throbbing, squealing, wild journey through the creative heights of sound channeling swirling, focused artistry that taps future and past in a single blow. Copies of the original pressing are between the rarest and most sought-after records in canon of recorded jazz."