Atlas Maior Announces New Album 'Riptide'
Atlas Maior is thrilled to announce the release of their new full-length album Riptide, out May 3, 2019, and will celebrate the release with a hometown performance at Stay Gold on May 24, 2019. Riptide represents the group's most dynamic and intricate effort to-date as the eleven song album traverses American and Progressive Jazz, Middle Eastern and Indian traditions, and Latin American musical idioms. The result creates hypnotic, transportive soundscapes with powerful melodies and gripping passages that are uniquely Atlas Maior.
Atlas Maior writes original melodies exploring maqamat (the Middle Eastern modal system) and harmonic progressions found in American jazz. The group composes with a wide variety of rhythms and 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 the Atlas Maior compositional process by band members Joshua Thomson (alto saxophone), Charlie Lockwood (oud - Middle Eastern fretless lute), Josh Peters (oud), and Ted Camat (drums, percussion). The album is bolstered by several featured guest artists and regular contributors to Atlas Maior, including violin maestro Robert Riggio (Atash, Youssou N'dour, Fayrouz), rhythm section talents Gary Calhoun James (double bass), Tarik Hassan (double bass), and Palestinian oud player Sari Andoni. Riptide was produced by Thomson and Lockwood, mixed by Gary Calhoun James, & mastered by Carl Saff.
Thomson enthusiastically states about the new album "Our 5th studio release Riptide is the culmination of many creative ideas that have come to fruition. This is the band's most polished album and its informed by our experiences working together, and the struggles and achievements we've experienced as people. There's a lot of depth, emotion, and expression within the songs on Riptide. Themes of loss, gain, resilience, and perseverance are all in there."
When fans listen to Atlas Maior, the blend of international sounds and progressive jazz styles, may not conjure up the imagery of the capital city of Austin, TX, known more for folk, singer/songwriters, and indie rock. But there is no other city like Austin, that draws top notch musicians from around the world, where such a unique band like Atlas Maior could be created. The geographical pivot points of Detroit, Austin, Barcelona, and Istanbul have impacted the musical identity of Atlas Maior. Thomson originally from Detroit's Middle Eastern suburb Dearborn, MI was influenced by Jazz and Middle Eastern music before relocating to Austin and co-founding the band with original drummer, Ethan Vlah, who was fresh from Barcelona, Spain. Then with the addition of Lockwood and the Oud brought things to another level. In Austin, there is a rich history of oud players that Atlas Maior has collaborated with and learned from including Kamran Hooshmand, who was one of the first Persian musicians to actively perform Middle Eastern music in Austin, Oliver Rajamani, the virtuoso flamenco guitar, Indian rebab, and oud player, Atash violinist Robert Riggio who also plays the oud, and Sari Andoni, Palestinian oud player, who is also featured on the album ("Osman Pehlivan").
It is only logical that a band with this much depth in international music not only resonates in Texas and the U.S., but has also found a dedicated following in Europe, which they've completed three international tours and will embark on another one in 2019.
Riptide fits nicely within Atlas Maior's catalog that includes Keyif (2015), Palindrome (2014), Four Shades (2012), and Atlas Maior EP (2011), all receiving positive press accolades from Public Radio International, KUTX, Austin's National Public Radio affiliate network, All About Jazz, Earmilk, UTNE Reader, World Music Central and more. Atlas Maior has toured internationally in France, Spain, and Turkey, and has received hometown recognition with the proclamation of "Atlas Maior Day" on March 27, 2014 by Austin's City Council. On January 31st, Atlas Maior was named Creative Ambassadors to the City of Austin for 2019 by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and the ATX Music Division.
Most recently Atlas Maior was nominated for the 3rd consecutive year as a top 5 finalist in the category of jazz for the 2019 Austin Music Awards. They have opened for internationally acclaimed artists Vieux Farka Touré, Tal National, Josh T. Pearson, and have performed at music festivals including Austin Days(Angers, FR), Pueblos Blancos (Andalusia), Wobeonfest, Art Outside, SXSW, and the City of Austin's F1 Fan Fest. The group has collaborated with a host of talented musicians in Angers, Austin, Barcelona, Istanbul, and from around the world, including Lou Lou Ghelichkhani of Thievery Corporation, Raquy Danziger, Atash, Fared Shafinury, Indrajit Banerjee, Alán Chehab Quartet, The University of Texas at Austin Middle East Ensemble Bereket, The Austin Global Orchestra and many more.
Tastemaker music blog Earmilk sums up the band best by stating, "Atlas Maior stray from the norm by mixing elements of jazz, Arab, Turkish and Latin American musical elements. This may look like more than you can handle on paper but the excellent way these guys layer their instrumentation is nothing less than beautiful."