Ahmed Sirour – Nature Boy (feat. Cleveland Jones) (Audio) (2011)

Situated on most every artist’s path lies a point in which they will address one of the enduring masterworks of yesteryears – the eponymous “standard.” Taken from the pop or jazz world, these songs have been heralded for their compositional brilliance and expansive popularity. Deep within this illustrious canon sits eden ahbez’s 1947 masterpiece “Nature Boy.” Telling the fantastical tale of an enigmatic youth, the song is constructed through a lush orchestral arrangement enhancing the ethereal feel of the song’s lyricism. Amongst the countless versions of this song, Nat King Cole’s 1948 rendition stands out amongst the crowd. Recently, however I was made privy to a new conceptualization of this timeless classic.

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Ahmed Sirour is a Brooklyn-based musician and composer, who first caught my attention with his remix of the Roots and John Legend record, “Shine” off of their collaborative effort Wake Up!. The song carries the soulful inclinations of a gospel record and succeeds in evoking that same sort of overwhelming emotional reaction found in many a Sunday morning church services. Sirour transformed this song into a symphonic masterpiece, arousing the same triumphant response of the latter. His instrumentation was obviously advanced, but his abilities as an arranger were simply incomprehensible. I had to hear more. Digging deeper, I found the aptly-titled, The After 2AM Sessions, his most recent project whose intoxicating melodies seem predestined for late night excursions in the midnight hours. Simply put, the album is a musical aphrodisiac. But what most captured my attention stood outside of its sensual counterparts. I was intrigued by his take on the aforementioned jazz standard, “Nature Boy.”

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Beginning with a rich piano solo, the song is immediately understood as a divergent take from the song’s usual trajectory. Based upon this format, the song takes a minimalist approach with grandiose results. Handling the role of vocalist, Cleveland Jones breathes new life into a song known for the charming cool of Cole’s iconic baritone. Instead, Jones emotes with a performance that can be easily described as vocal gymnastics. With every note, Jones takes the song’s to a new level. Complementing each other, the two performers create an outstanding modernization of an ageless beauty. While some believe that jazz has outlived its own relevancy, I simply look at Ahmed Sirour and pay respect to the offspring of its enduring lineage.

For more on Ahmed Sirour, check out his bandcamp page here.

Written by: Paul Pennington

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