Credit: Alicia Michelle


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.

Listen to the first taste of the record in the form of the title track

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.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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