On Pata Maroc Norbert Stein and the Pata Masters take us on a caravan of sorts as they transport us to Marrakesh, the capital of the sultans and a major rail and trade center. From there we head to the Atlantic coast and arrive at Rabat, the capitol of Morocco. Here, saxophonist-composer Norbert Stein invites the listener to join him and his band on a voyage to this mystical and often mysterious land. Along with Michael Rusenberg’s vivid soundscapes the band integrate ethnic woodwind instruments, Western style arrangements, North African melodies/hymns and modal concepts while incorporating various electronics and treatments.
The opener, “Railships to Rabat” features the exotic flute performances of Michael Heupel along with the subliminal background soundscapes intelligently provided by Michael Rusenberg as he emulates – street-noise, trains and vaguely familiar sounds. Rusenberg provides shades of color and effective backdrops as he sets the stage for the mind’s eye. “Parliament of Music” is led by a straight four beat as Stein articulates choruses that intimate motion or perhaps a dynamic sense of travel and exploration. The lucid imagery becomes lifelike yet remains somewhat surreal, leaving portions or moments in time to be reconciled by our imaginations.
On many of these thirteen pieces, we are treated to unorthodox scales, spoken word, blues, scat vocals, multidimensional arrangements, ethnocentric rhythms, world beats and compelling interplay. The music toggles between joy, consternation, and in some instances the band purvey religious overtones which is evident in the hymn-like composition titled “Inside Chella” as if we had entered sacred grounds....
Norbert Stein and the “Pata Masters” deserve wider recognition on these shores. With each new release we never quite know what to expect – as Stein’s recordings are akin to events, stories, epics....yet the at times stark realism or otherworldly connotations of his music play with our senses and approach us from contrasting angles. Cinema for the ears? Perhaps. Pata Maroc is enchanting, persuasive and absorbing. Hearing is believing! * * * * *