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 Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Live At Shinjuku Pit Inn" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Shinjuku Pit Inn
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "River Silver" CD/LP/Track Review River Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 23, 2016
Read "Beloved" CD/LP/Track Review Beloved
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 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!