on April 4, 2011
"Where I Belong" is the stunning debut by World instrumental composer/musician SAJJAD. Four years in the making, the music is dynamic, energetic, and soul-stirring. A self-taught pianist/keyboardist from the age of eleven, SAJJAD was born in Bangladesh and grew up in Germany; he is now a naturalized Canadian citizen working in Toronto. SAJJAD earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, and has been working in the Information Technology field, financing this recording project with his 'day job.' The title of the album refers to the fact that music is where his heart is and where he really wants to be. Well, I have to say that if SAJJAD can maintain this level of quality in his future recordings, his musical future should be very bright indeed! In addition to his own playing and composing, SAJJAD was able to enlist the talents of several world-class musicians to collaborate and add their own signature touches to the music. Co-producer John Jamieson also contributed his own magic. Comparisons to other musicians aren't necessary, but it would be a safe bet that if you enjoy Yanni's earlier music and Omar Akram, you'll love SAJJAD, too. His energy and pure joy at making music are infectious, and utilizing diverse instruments from all over the world helps to create a universal musical language.
The title song opens "Where I Belong," a soulful piece that includes Ron Korb on ethnic flutes and Kevin Fox on cello along with SAJJAD's keyboards - a brilliant beginning! 'In My Spirit' is more like an African folk song with vocals, a strong beat, and swirling energy. 'End of Eternity' has Michael Massaro's fantastic sax playing, a strong vibrant rhythm, and the feeling of soaring. 'Moment of Chance' pumps up the rhythm again and sends your feet dancing - such wonderful, joyful enthusiasm! If you can sit still with this piece, you might want to verify you have a pulse! 'Stay With Me' goes in a different direction with a tender love song. Piano, strings, light percussion and keyboard washes make this a gentle beauty. 'No Walls Between Us' is another lovely ballad, this time introducing the erhu, a Chinese two-stringed instrument that gives an exotic Asian flavor to the more western strings, keyboard and percussion. The only piece with lyrics is the extraordinary 'Far Away,' co-written and sung by Cyndi Richards, whose rich and earthy voice conveys passion that raises goose-bumps. Johannes Linstead's guitar provides the 'voice' of the male counterpart to Richards' female vocalist - sizzling! Tony Carlucci's horn is a deeply emotional addition. Carlucci also leads into 'Something Amazing,' a concluding piece that includes piano, guitar, violin, cello, and drums. Whew! What a ride!
SAJJAD's music has burst on the world with passion, love, and optimism that sparkle while revealing a bold new musical voice. Bravo!!! I give it my highest recommendation!