Home » Jazz Articles » Joachim Kühn / Majid Bekkas / Ramon Lopez: Chalaba

185
Album Review

Joachim Kühn / Majid Bekkas / Ramon Lopez: Chalaba

By

Sign in to view read count
Joachim Kühn / Majid Bekkas / Ramon Lopez: Chalaba
The sleeve notes to Chalaba describe German pianist and alto saxophonist Joachim Kühn as a veteran "of the conscious avant-garde." This is certainly accurate—he's worked with Archie Shepp and Ornette Coleman, among others—but the description sounds rather forbidding, a portent of some serious and complex sounds for the mind but not the body. Thankfully it misleads: for while Kühn, vocalist and guembri player Majid Bekkas, and percussionist Ramon Lopez do produce some serious music, they also create some splendidly joyous tunes as well. Drawing on their combined roots in the musics of Spain, Morocco, Northern Europe and North America, these three musicians know how to deliver music that is thoughtful but also danceable.

Chalaba is the trio's third album, following Kalimba (ACT Music, 2007) and Out Of The Desert (ACT Music, 2009). The latter featured additional Gnawa musicians from Morroco, Bekkas' homeland, and Benin but Chalaba returns to the simpler line up of the first album. This gives a more spacious feel to the music, more freedom for the individual musicians, and a little more stylistic variation.

This variation is immediately apparent on Kühn and Bekkas' joint composition "Enjoy," which combines Lopez' reggae influenced percussion, Kühn's rolling piano phrases and Bekkas' fluid vocal and strident, funky guembri into an insistently danceable tune. Bekkas' "Asmaa" is dedicated to his daughter and flows beautifully, with a touch of flamenco and, thanks to Lopez' tabla playing, a flavor of Indian percussion. Kühn's "Back to Normal" and "The Second Egg" are more distinctly drawn from his avant-garde roots: Bekkas' guembri playing could almost be mistaken for a double bass on these tracks as he underpins Kühn and Lopez' delicate interplay.

The trio composition "Soon in June" begins with a duet between Bekkas' voice and Kühn's alto saxophone before Lopez bursts in, Bekka's takes up his guembri and things kick off in a serious fashion. It's the album's most visceral piece; powerful and affecting. Kühn's "Play Golf in the Fresh Air" is equally powerful, but more humorous, a driving, rock-influenced tune that bowls along with good-natured danceability and a slight air of mystery. The 66-year-old Kühn, by the way, is at pains to point out that none of the band plays golf: "We're still too young for that."

Track Listing

Enjoy; Asmaa; Back to Normal; Play Golf in the Fresh Air; Chalaba; Soon in June; Hamdouchia; The Second Egg; Momoun Saadiyamou.

Personnel

Joachim Kühn: piano, alto saxophone; Majid Bekkas: vocals, guembri, oud; Ramon Lopez: drums, tabla, percussion.

Album information

Title: Chalaba | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ACT Music


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Discover
Eric Jacobson
Andromeda's Mystery
Doruzka/Wylezot/Ballard
Pictures in Time
Alex Sjobeck
Universos
Yotam Silberstein

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.