Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

156

Joachim Kuhn and Majid Bekkas with Ramon Lopez: Kalimba

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
While it's easy to categorize the assimilation of diverse musical cultures as world music, the term has become over-utilized and often misrepresented. German-born pianist Joachim Kühn, Moroccan guimbri/oud player Majid Bekkas and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez intersect on Kalimba, an album that should dispense with oversimplified categorization. Instead, assessed on its own merits as an album that looks to capitalize on the strengths of everyone involved, it carves out its own distinctive musical niche.

This isn't the first time that Kühn has rubbed shoulders with artists from different cultures. The pianist first emerged in the early 1970s as a stylistic free-thinker cut from similar cloth as pianist McCoy Tyner on albums including Man of the Light (MPS, 1977), a lost classic by the late and tragically overlooked Polish violinist, Zbigniew Seifert. Since then he's tackled increasingly ambitious and diverse projects including Allegro Vivace (ACT, 2005), which explores the unexpected nexus where Bach, Mozart, Coltrane and Ornette Coleman meet, and a remarkable cross-cultural collaboration with Lebanese oudist Rabih Abou-Khalil, Journey to the Centre of an Egg (Enja, 2006).

Kühn and Bekkas share the writing duties on Kalimba, collaborating on some tunes, going it alone on others. "A Live Experience, with Bekkas' simple lyrical message, manages to combine a kind of funky, 1970s-era Keith Jarrett with a pedal tone and harmonic sensibility that's subtly redolent of the Maghreb yet becomes aggressively open-ended in a more Western fashion during Kühn's probing solo. Lopez is the glue that binds Kühn's experimental nature with Bakkas' repetitive pattern on the guimbri, or bass lute.

Some tunes speak more strongly of individual background. Bekkas' "Hamdouchi feels ethnically authentic—that is, until the two-minute mark, where Kühn enters and propels the song into more stylistically ambiguity. "Kalimba Cali, featuring Bekkas on the African thumb piano, recalls Collin Walcott-era Oregon if one neglects his trance-inducing vocals.

Kühn's paradoxically named "Good Mood, with its dark textures and hypnotic underpinning from Bekkas, once again looks for a cultural meeting point, while the collaborative composition "Youmala creates its own kind of liberated space that feels like the ideal intersection, with Lopez both propelling the tune with a firm groove and playing improvisational partner with Bekkas and Kühn. Kühn's closer, the fiery "White Widow, is the most wholly Western-sounding piece on the disc, although there's more than a hint of Spain in its idiosyncratic theme, not to mention a taste of European classicism.

The beauty of cross-cultural collaborations is that you'll rarely hear the same result from different collectives. The same, of course, can and should be said about all music, but when one ups the ante by looking for common musical ground between disparate cultures on top of individual musical aesthetics, the results are bound to be more distinctive. That's certainly the case with Kalimba, an album which has plenty of conceptual precedent but sounds like nothing you'll hear anywhere else.


Track Listing: A Live Experience; Hambouchi; Good Mood; Kalimba Call; Youmala; Rabih's Delight; Dahin; Sabbatique; Dounia; White Widow.

Personnel: Joachim Kuhn: grand piano, alto saxophone; Majid Bekkas: guimbri, oud, kalimba, voice; Ramon Lopez: drums.

Title: Kalimba | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ACT Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
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

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar23Sat
Gary Husband, Joachim Kühn
Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
London, UK

Shop

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read School of Fish Album Reviews
School of Fish
By Dan McClenaghan
March 23, 2019
Read Blood Album Reviews
Blood
By John Sharpe
March 23, 2019
Read Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley Album Reviews
Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley
By Jerome Wilson
March 23, 2019
Read Hydro 2 Album Reviews
Hydro 2
By Mark Corroto
March 23, 2019
Read Old School Revolution Album Reviews
Old School Revolution
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 23, 2019
Read Cuando Sea Necesario Album Reviews
Cuando Sea Necesario
By Dan McClenaghan
March 22, 2019
Read West 60th Album Reviews
West 60th
By Peter Hoetjes
March 22, 2019