In this illuminating playlist, French-Tunisian saxophonist and composer Yacine Boulares traces his unconventional path to a life in music, inspired by Coltrane and Shorter, but also Rostropovich, Bach, and Stambeli musician Salah El Ouergli. It is Stambeli, the healing trance music brought to Tunisia by sub-Saharan slaves, that inspired his most recent project, Suite for Abu Sadiya, which he brings to the David Rubenstein Atrium on April 19.

Read our interview with Yacine and Stephanie Chou.

"Wise One" by John Coltrane
John Coltrane and J.S. Bach are the main reasons why I dedicated my life to music. Growing up an atheist I perceived in their music a connection to a transcendance I had never experienced. I remember listening to Coltrane's solo on "Wise One" and picturing a sense of divinity expressing itself.

"Super Etoile" by Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal
I compose for specific musicians, they usually inspire my work and I like to imagine how they'll sound when they play my music. Abu Sadiya was composed for Vincent Segal, and I studied his playing extensively. Chamber Music is a magnificent album where Vincent reveals a lot of his ability to assume different roles on the cello. One moment he plays like a bassist, another like a harmonic instrument or a soloist.

"Esta Plena" by Miguel Zenon
On top of being one of my favorite alto players, Miguel Zenon is a visionary composer and arranger. I'm particularly inspired by the way he blends Puerto Rican folklore with jazz. It never sounds like a juxtaposition of sounds but always like a genre in itself.

"Bousaadeya" by Salah El Ouergli
Salah El Ouergli is one of the pillars of Stambeli, the Tunisian healing trance music that inspired my whole album. Here, he sings the traditional song "Bousaadeya."

"Kashf" by Anouar Brahem, John Surman, and Dave Holland
I have so much love for Anouar Brahem's album Thimar. The instrumentation and truly unique musical personalities—Brahem on oud, Holland on bass, and Surman on soprano saxophone & bass clarinet—influenced Abu Sadiya a lot in terms of timbre and balance.

Johannes Brahms, Sonata for Cello and Piano No.1 in E Minor, Op.38: 1. Allegro Non Troppo, by Mstislav Rostropovich & Rudolf Serkin
I discovered this piece while I was composing Abu Sadiya. I was drawn to Rostropovitch's interpretation more than the composition.

"Aung San Suu Kyi" by Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock
Wayne Shorter is one of the major reasons I turned to the soprano saxophone. His playing opened my ears to infinite possibilities. I'm drawn to the balance of fragility and purpose that emerges from his music.

"State of the Union" by Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard, Larry Grenadier
I was obsessed with Mark Turner and Fly trio for many years and transcribed most of their music. I was always fascinated at how seamlessly they would oscillate between through-composed parts and improvisation. Their music lies between chamber music and modern jazz.

Listen to the full playlist.

About the Curator

Yacine Boulares is a French-Tunisian saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer based in New York City. A graduate of La Sorbonne in philosophy and the Conservatoire National de Paris, Yacine Boulares is also a Fulbright and New School for Jazz and Contemporary grantee. A versatile musician and composer, his debut album AJOYO featuring Sarah Elizabeth Charles was released in 2015 on Ropeadope Records. A sought after sideman and arranger, Yacine regularly records and performs with artists including Plácido Domingo, Tabou Combo, and Sheila Jordan. His project Abu Sadiya with Vincent Segal and Nasheet Waits was awarded the French-American Jazz Exchange and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture grant.