All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

185

Joachim Kühn / Majid Bekkas / Ramon Lopez: Chalaba

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
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.

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

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Love & Peace

Love & Peace

ACT Music
2018

buy
Voodoo Sense

Voodoo Sense

ACT Music
2013

buy
Chalaba

Chalaba

ACT Music
2011

buy
Kalimba

Kalimba

ACT Music
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Atwood Suites CD/LP/Track Review
Atwood Suites
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Theirs CD/LP/Track Review
Theirs
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Jubilation! CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 25, 2018
Read And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads CD/LP/Track Review
And She Speaks - A Collection Of Ballads
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Let Go CD/LP/Track Review
Let Go
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 25, 2018
Read Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh CD/LP/Track Review
Undercurrent - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 24, 2018
Read "First Things First" CD/LP/Track Review First Things First
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 4, 2018
Read "Reaching Out" CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "The Better Angels of Our Nature" CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "The Ultimate Experience" CD/LP/Track Review The Ultimate Experience
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "...don't buy him a parrot..." CD/LP/Track Review ...don't buy him a parrot...
by John Sharpe
Published: January 29, 2018