Anouar Brahem: Stopover at Djibouti


Stopover at Djibouti



The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM 2075)

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Anouar Brahem (oud),

Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet), Bjorn Meyer (bass), Khaled Yassine (darbouka, bendir)


Composed by Anouar Brahem


Recorded: Udine, October, 2008


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

The most striking aspect of Manfred Eicher's work as a producer may be its very invisibility. On his projects, the music invariably seems to define its own terms. Nothing is forced or contrived, and each song is given room to breathe. Other labels, in contrast, come across as heavy-handed in imposing concepts or jumping on fads or tinkering with the proceedings. The music arrives in your CD player or iPod with lots of baggage and a "story" straight from the marketing department.

One could hardly imagine Anouar Brahem showing up on a release at Verve and Concord, yet at ECM he is very much at home with a conception of jazz fusion that crosses centuries rather than genres. This absorbing track from The Astounding Eyes of Rita is a case in point. You could try to define the ingredients in familiar terms. The horn lines could, with different accompaniment, fit into a hard bop chart. The textures here would work on a soundtrack for a big budget film. The oud makes sense as one more flavor in the global village jukebox. But mix them together here, and the result is sui generis, a personal statement rather than a packaged deal from the entertainment industry. The pulse on "Stopover at Djibouti" sometimes superimposes a fast triple meter over a more deliberate duple pulse—this gives the song a chance to soar or float depending on which path it takes. At certain moments one could envision a dance arising from the sounds, but just as easily imagine them inspiring languor and a profound meditation.

In other words, this is music that doesn't jump on trends. Then again, it might just start one. And wouldn't that be something?

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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