220

Oran Etkin: Kelenia

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Oran Etkin: Kelenia Exposure to traditional African music is limited in the western hemisphere so it is always a pleasant surprise when a recording is released, especially when it is a solid, well above average effort.

Clarinetist and saxophonist Oran Etkin has fused Malian music with elements of improvisation and jazz in his debut, Kelenia. This is not just mere pastiche but a successful melding of musical genres into a work that maintains a strong traditional identity while solidly remaining a modern art form of the 21st century.

All the tunes, save one, consist of either old Malian songs or new compositions heavily influenced by the music of Mali. Etkin utilizes both West African percussion instruments and European string ones to create a lush and harmonious background for his saxophone and clarinet solos. The appearance of violin and cello on "Brink," for example, do not sound out of place but just a natural extension of the whole concept.

Etkin's sound on his reeds is a bit reminiscent of Yusef Lateef, another jazz musician who experiments with sounds and music from around the world, and who also provides the informative liner notes for this release. Etkin's improvisations remain close to the melody, but tastefully weave around the main themes' intricate and complex layers of sound, peppered with references to Jewish music—effectively introducing yet another influence that nicely fuses with the rest.

The side and guest musicians also have plenty of solo space: Abdoulaye Diabate and percussionist Makaye Kouyate sing on two tracks each; Bala Kouyate takes an evocative balafon solo on "Damonzon"; and Lionel Loueke contributes guitar solos on three pieces.

The songs, especially the ones with vocals, do tend to become a bit repetitive and similar to each other, but the musicians' skill prevents things from becoming boring, maintaining interest even after a few spins.

Oran Etkin and his fellow musicians have created a testament to the universality of the language of music by seamlessly blending multiple genres and traditions into a whole that exceeds the sum of its parts.


Track Listing: Yekeke; Nina; Kelenia; Not A Waltz; Nama; Lacy; Brink; New Dwelling; It Don't Mean A Thing; Damonzon; Kelenia Remembered.

Personnel: Oran Etkin: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Joe Sanders: bass (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10); Balla Kouyate: balafon; Makane Kouyate: calabash (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 ,10), vocals (5, 10); Lionel Loueke: guitar (2, 4, 10); Abdoulaye Diabate: vocals (1, 3); John Benitez: bass (2, 4, 6); Joh Camara: calabash, tama (4), djun-djun, djembe (10), kraya (5); Jessie Marino: cello (7); Sara Caswell: violin (7).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Motema Music | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Dixie Chicken" CD/LP/Track Review Dixie Chicken
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Live at PafA" CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Transcience" CD/LP/Track Review Transcience
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Long After Midnight" CD/LP/Track Review Long After Midnight
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 21, 2016
Read "Once Upon A Time In Portugal" CD/LP/Track Review Once Upon A Time In Portugal
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 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!

Buy it!