Karim Saber: Transmission

London-based guitarist presents a set of yearning modal themes over loose Latin-rock beats, overlaid with virtuosic soloing


Born and raised in London and of British/Iranian heritage, guitarist Karim Saber consolidates his burgeoning career with the launch of his debut album Transmission. Saber formed his current band in 2021 whilst still a student at the Royal Academy Of Music. All Saber’s bandmates are alumni of the RAM whom he met whilst completing his studies there. It should be noted though that the pianist in the band, Alex Wilson, is not the older, much more well-established jazz pianist sharing the same name.

Saber gained his chops touring throughout Europe as a member of keyboardist and composer Lukas DeRungs’ quintet and is featured on DeRungs’ extraordinary debut album Kosmos Suite (Berthold Records, 2023). Check out on Bandcamp Saber’s jaw-dropping axe work on the track II – BLAST – Explode.

All the compositions on Transmission were written by Saber in 2021, evolving and honed over a residency the quintet played at MAP Café in Kentish Town, London and the record was produced by Phronesis virtuoso bassist and Royal Academy Of Music bass prof, Jasper Høiby.

From the opener, Blossom, it’s evident that Saber already has virtuosic abilities, his labyrinthine solo here displaying both technique and imagination. Wilson’s short, graceful piano cadenza introduces Warwick Street, a 10-minute, slow-building centrepiece populated by spectacular contributions from Matt Cook on tenor followed by some remarkably fluid playing from Saber.

The title track is a more angular affair which over eight minutes provides ample space for Saber, Wilson and drummer Jack Thomas to produce some impressive solos. If this album is anything to go by, we’ll be hearing a lot more from Karim Saber.

Blossom; Mannheim; Warwick Street (Intro); Warwick Street; Open; Turner (Intro); Turner; Transmission; Alien Folk Song (54.39)
Saber (elg); Alex Wilson (p); Matt Cook (ts); John Jones (b); Jack Thomas (d). London, 10-12 April, 2023.
Ubuntu Music UBU0156