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East Meets West, Jazz Gets Worldly

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Spiritual Jazz is our theme this week on Sound Travels as we take aim at a pseudo-genre, a sound that has no memes, tropes or standard. It does exist however, and really is a big part of the jazz canon as well as world music. It makes sense that America's first big musical export would resonate with musicians around the world. Their contributions to jazz inevitably bore the imprint of their own homelands.

Likewise, American jazz performers have been incorporating global sounds since Sun Ra first got freaky. So what is this spiritual jazz? If I were to attempt a definition, I'd call it the deep-seated longing for completeness. A yearning neccessitated by the inspiration music can bring; an inspration that makes us familiar with the "otherness" of things "foreign." Connection to truths that are deeper than belonging to an actual group, because the belonging exists in the soul. And that's what jazz has always been about...transcendence. 

Ahmad Abdul-Malik "Isma'a"

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Salah Ragab & The Cairo Jazz Band "Egypt Strut"

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Walias Band "Musicawi Silt"

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Mulatu Astatke "Yekermo Sew"

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