283

Kareem Roustom, El-Zafeer Ensemble: Almitra's Question

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Kareem Roustom was born in Damascus, Syria to American and Syrian parents; on Almitra's Question he and the El-Zafeer Ensemble make music that blends American jazz with Arabic sounds. The rhythm patterns and the distinctive percussion (riqq and daff) lend an exotic and crisply declamatory backdrop to Roustom's lush accoustic guitar playing and violinist Hanna Khoury's sweetly sinuous lines. Exotic, mysterious—especially to an ear (like this reviewer's) that hasn't listened to much of the music from the East.

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 to—though rhythmically different from—flamenco.

Enchanting stuff!

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"

Title: Almitra's Question | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Fuller Street Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "Loneliness Road" CD/LP/Track Review Loneliness Road
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "The Colours Suite" CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Clarinet (& Piano)" CD/LP/Track Review Clarinet (& Piano)
by John Eyles
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "Scratches Of Spain" CD/LP/Track Review Scratches Of Spain
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Running After The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Running After The Sun
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Jinja" CD/LP/Track Review Jinja
by James Nadal
Published: February 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.