Kareem Roustom, El-Zafeer Ensemble: Almitra's Question (2005)
Spirituality always seems an underlying theme. The group plays the ever-spiritual John Coltrane tune "Naima" and Oliver Messiaen's "O Sacrum Convivium," along with four Roustom originals; and even his prosaically named "Burnt Onions" seems suffused with a gentle, ecstatic soulfulness.
The set has a cohesive, collaborative feel, with violin and guitar sharing the space like dancers, a sort of Django/Grappelli sound with a softer and more lilting tone, leaning eastward; or like something you might hear from an acoustic Bill Frisell, if he were to immerse himself in Arabic sounds.
To this ear Almitra's Question has charmingly simple, accoustic atmosphere, similar tothough rhythmically different fromflamenco.
Track Listing: Sandstorm, Naima, Almitras' Question, O Sacrum Convivium, Burnt Onions, Salwa's Last Dance
Personnel: Kareem Roustom--guitar; Hanna Khoury--violin; Danny Dunlap--bass; Catherine Alexander--percussion (riqq & daff); Souhail Kaspar--percussion (riqq & tabla); Karim Nagi Mohammed--percussion (riqq & daff); Fernando Huergo--bass; Ronit Kirchman--additional violins on "O Sacrum Convivium"
Record Label: Fuller Street Music