It’s rare when anyone creates a new avenue of exploration in jazz. But New York City-based, Iraqi-American trumpeter/composer Amir ElSaffar has done so with his multi-hued, 10-track suite Two Rivers, which refers to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and also the intermingling of two musical worlds.

ElSaffar evokes and includes ancient Iraqi musical traditions and instruments and merges them into a jazz framework. Compositions are rooted in Maqam (pronounced ma-KAHM) melodies, which have an incomparable spiritual nature that permeated Iraqi society until recent violence curtailed such artistry.

The pieces contain non-Western tunings, Arabic poetry, focused grooves, free jazz elements and close-knit ensemble performances, yet ElSaffar’s arrangements are friendly and easily appreciated. “Hemayoun” swings with a steady backbeat, ElSaffar’s trumpet echoing that of his hero, Miles Davis.

Throughout this remarkable material, ElSaffar imparts an absorbing emotional landscape that speaks volumes about places and peoples.

Grade: A

Two Rivers is currently available.