6

Dhafer Youssef: Casablanca, Morocco, April 1, 2013

Dhafer Youssef: Casablanca, Morocco, April 1, 2013
Mehdi El Mouden By

Sign in to view read count
Dhafer Youssef
Jazzablanca Festival
Casablanca, Morocco
April 1, 2013

On April 1, 2013, the Jazzablanca Festival audience was in for a unique experience. Programmed on the third day of the festival and subsequent to singer Melody Gardot and Belgium's Vaya Con Dios , singer/oudist Dhafer Youssef traced a journey from mysticism to jazz via rock beats. During the course of 90 minutes, Youssef's voice transported the audience to moments of epiphany where elation and melancholy met, his long vocal solos followed by an eclectic music that could not but enchant his fans, who hollered, tapped on the floor and emulated the frenzy onstage.

The 10-minute ''Les Ondes Orientales'' opened the show slowly, with Youssef's oud strings and Kristjan Randalu's carefully fingered piano waiting for ascending drums and bass to announce the beat. Meanwhile Youssef's vocal outburst gave Randalu space to indulge in a solo, the singer intervening at the very end with his own soaring, bliss-manifesting solo.

Next came ''Hayastan Dance,'' also from Abu Nawas Rhapsody (Jazzland, 2010). Here, Youssef played in a different register, marked by a fast-paced swing between piano and lute, and a hard rock beat pounding behind it. The repetitive rapid oud rhythm offered each musician time to plunge into a solo, each one introduced Youssef: in addition to Randalu, double bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Chander Sardjoe.

Back to Sufism, Youssef introduced the third song through an explanation of the Arabic word "كفر," which denotes atheism but connotes the fact of concealing something. Quoted from Abu Nawas' poetry, the song ''Profane ,the Wine Ode Suite,'' originally composed with pianist Tigran Hamasyan, plunged the audience into a very meditative atmosphere where Youssef's high pitched shrieks reached the sky.

''Interl'Oud'' appeased the atmosphere through a soft oud interlude, paving the way to a graceful but poignant ''Odd Elegy,'' where Randalu's ascending piano solo spurred Youssef's ethereal voice to go full blast; the appreciative fans gave a roaring standing ovation. Then, Youssef sat back in his chair to prepare for a delicate vocal solo. He tapped on his breast to release fragmented shrieks, preparing for a trance performance where, once again ,Youssef had to push his musicians to a close with his soaring voice.

To respond to the audience request, Youssef played ''Khamsa, the Khamriyyat of Abu Nuwas.'' Characterized by Abu Nawass' introductory poem, the song opened with a slow rhythm and then turned into a rapid dialogue between Donkin and drummer Sardjoe.

Following a standing ovation, the quartet encored with ''Ode Poetry'' from Divine Shadows (Jazzland, 2006). Another standing ovation failed to bring the quartet back, but the audience left hollering its appreciation for this memorable evening.

Photo Credit

Mehdi El Mouden

Shop

More Articles

Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Tallinn Music Week 2017 Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone" Live Reviews Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Keith Oxman Quartet at Nocturne" Live Reviews Keith Oxman Quartet at Nocturne
by Douglas Groothuis
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "John Daversa Big Band at The Baked Potato" Live Reviews John Daversa Big Band at The Baked Potato
by Paul Naser
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Helsinki Festival 2016" Live Reviews Helsinki Festival 2016
by Anthony Shaw
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Montreux Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Montreux Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!