124

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem has recorded for ECM since 1990; Le Pas du Chat Noir (2002) achieved the most critical acclaim. The trio which made that record comes together again for Le Voyage de Sahar, creating an understated tour de force that builds on the former album. While the "ECM sound" very much helps create the feeling, the image of a spotlight on the trio, otherwise surrounded by darkness, playing to a massive, totally silent, mesmerized audience, keeps appearing. The music creates an intense intimacy as the trio explores a relatively small musical space very deeply.

Each tune tells a story with swells, rather than musical extremes. The unusual instrumentation (oud, accordion, piano) very quickly blends into a unit, and it's sometimes a surprise to discover who is playing a solo at any given moment, because anyone can step forward without notice. While Brahem is the leader and he takes the lion's share of the solos on oud (with much vocalization), Francois Couturier's piano is never far away—either providing rhythmic support, echoing the oud's line, or filling out the harmony. Jean-Louis Matinier, on accordion, is more felt than heard, adding color most of the time, except on "Les Jardins de Ziryab," where he stands out.

As the record moves through its thirteen tracks, the predominant minor-key music never wears on the ear, since it falls into a major mode many times like a burst of sunlight, as in "La Chambre." The energy level of the tracks is also very well-managed; "Nuba" brings a welcome dance feel to the proceedings.

The French-Tunisian nexus on which this music squarely sits is momentarily shaken in "Cordoba" by a few very obvious notes from outside the established scale, possibly signaling a Western jazz side of Brahem that has thus far been submerged. The treatment of "Halfaouine" also comes unexpectedly, since the structure produced both by phrase repetition and direct harmonic movement is the clearest yet.

What might also come as a surprise to the listener unfamiliar with this part of the musical world is how recognizable the central theme of "La Chambre Variations" is, after all of the pure scale playing. This tune is also a wonderful example of how the trio's sound seems stable while the foreground player constantly changes.

Given time to color the air and the room, Le Voyage de Sahar will win over listeners willing to allow its small-scale details accumulate and gradually develop their entrancing power. As it creates its definite, highly defined and refined mood, this album seduces slowly, but deeply.


Track Listing: Sur le fleuve; Le Voyage de Sahar; L'Aube; Vague/E la nave va; Les Jardins del Ziryab; Nuba; La Chambre; Cordoba; Halfaouine; La Chambre Variations; Zarabanda; Ete andalous; Vague Variations

Personnel: Anouar Brahem: oud, vocals; Jean-Louis Matinier: accordion; Francois Couturier: piano

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction" CD/LP/Track Review Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Fierce Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Fierce Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: December 9, 2016
Read "It's The Peace That Deafens" CD/LP/Track Review It's The Peace That Deafens
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Kronix" CD/LP/Track Review Kronix
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Two Hands, One Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Two Hands, One Heart
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 8, 2017

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!