Inner Light is tenor saxophonist and composer Faiz Lamouri's follow-up to his promising debut, Wonders (Soprane, 2016). It does not disappoint and begs the question, why have we had to wait four years?
Moroccan-born, Lamouri moved to Paris in 2004, where he studied at the American School of Modern Music until 2008. He then moved to New York City, where he continued his studies at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He returned to France in 2013.
Wonders is an accomplished exercise in straight-ahead jazz, taking in bop, hard bop, post-bop and balladry, and making much of Lamouri's gorgeous tone and technical facility. Inner Light, another quartet set but with a different lineup, is a more personal, and therefore more satisfying, outing reflecting Lamouri's Moroccan roots and years in New York.
The lines between Morocco, France and the US blur on the album, with the three heritages taking turns on top. Morocco is heard on "Jamaa El Fna," which references the percussive trance music played by the country's Gnawa brotherhood, and "Euphoria." Faint traces of Claude Debussy and Erik Satie can be detected on "Memories" and "Afternoon." Elsewhere, American jazz is centrestage.
An engaging album from a musician who is enriching the jazz tradition from within. Let us hope we do not have to wait another four years for Lamouri's next album.
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