Anouar Brahem: Al Hizam Al Dhahbi

Known for his borderless approach to music, Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem exemplifies expert fusion of local traditions and jazz aesthetics. Throughout this entire album, English musicians Holland and Surman show remarkable adaptability to Brahem's world. As in most Arabic classical music, the song features both rhythmic and melodic modes that underscore the composed melody and improvisations. Further contextualizing this music within the Arabic tradition, Brahem's only liner notes come by way of an 8th-century Iraqi poet from Basra, the Sufi saint Rabia Al Adawiya. Known for her doctrine of mystical love, Al Adawiya's quoted poem speaks of "incomparable verdant freshness, beauty and magnitude." By ensuring that the music always speaks loudest—free from constraints of nation or convention—Brahem infuses all his work with just these qualities.

March 07, 2008 · 0 comments


Avishai Cohen: Nu Nu

In a valiant attempt to mesh the influences of Middle Eastern, classical and fusion-style music, bassist Avishai Cohen (not to be confused with the trumpeter of the same name) has produced a worthy effort. Combining the exotic sounds of the oud, an ancient Middle Eastern string instrument, and the textural use of his own bowed upright bass, together with accomplished pianist Sam Barsh and driving drummer Mark Guiliana, Cohen creates a trademark sound that is at once unusual and interesting. On this track in particular, Cohen transports the listener into a nomadic tent pitched mid-desert replete with camels and parched throats. Setting the piece's tone, Hoffman's oud deftly counterpoints Barsh's classically influenced and impressive piano work. Meanwhile, Cohen and Guiliana keep the rhythmic bottom so anchored that the listener never strays too far from the Western influences of the jazz idiom. At times, all instruments play in perfect Mahavishnu-style sync, creating a stirring sense of tension while demonstrating great virtuosity in a distinctively Eastern-influenced vein. This unusual melding of three disparate musical influences achieves a surprising degree of success.

February 22, 2008 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page