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Anouar Brahem

Anouar Brahem is the oud’s conjuror, an authentic master at bringing out the acoustic magic which this age-old traditional Oriental lute carries inside its calabash: the musical heritage of the Arab and Islamic worlds. Brahem is a phenomenon, a concentrated mix of prolific paradoxes: he is a supremely subversive classicist; a solitary soloist, resolutely open to the world; and a "culture smuggler", a man ever inclined to venture beyond his own limits and push back musical frontiers… without yielding an inch to aesthetic standards forged across time and tempered with deep respect for tradition.

Because he has always recognized this fundamental complexity, it has become his strength. And because he’s sought to weave this abundance of influences and disparate passions inside the very material of his work and compositions for nearly forty years, Anouar Brahem now creates music free of any named traditional influences but rather in his own image, with the bewitching poetic colours of the oud to enrich a host of diverse musical canvases.

From the rich repertoire of Jazz – John Surman, Dave Holland, Jan Garbarek and Jack DeJohnette are just some of the leading players to succumb to Brahem's melodic spells – to the multiple and diverse traditions of Mediterranean and Oriental influence, (from his native Tunisia to the confines of India and Iran), his sensitive yet rigorous music constantly redefines a cleverly composite universe of poetry and culture, ever balancing between discretion and sensuality, nostalgia and contemplation.

Some landmarks…

Born in 1957 in Halfaouine, in the heart of the Medina in Tunis, Anouar Brahem was ten when he began studying the oud at the National Conservatory in Tunis, and later pursued his apprenticeship with the great master Ali Sriti; it was an entry deep into the art of the maqamat, highly complex, ancestral and modal, in the Arab tradition of classical music.

In an Arab musical environment where popular songs and crowded orchestras dominated – the oud was reserved for accompaniment – Brahem revealed his complex and multi-faceted personality by spontaneously undertaking a personal mission to restore the oud to the status of an emblematic solo instrument in Arab music, whilst at the same time breaking with tradition in his work as a composer by integrating elements of jazz and other musical traditions from the Orient and the Mediterranean into his new works.

In 1981, motivated by the desire to team up with other musicians from a variety of different aesthetic backgrounds, he moved to Paris for four years. It was to be a decisive period for him: he collaborated with Maurice Béjart and above all, composed numerous original works, notably for the Tunisian cinema and theatre. This was fertile ground for his orchestral experiments, because he introduced new ways of playing and even hitherto unknown instruments into the fundamental Arab tradition.

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In Pictures

Jazz Festival Ljubljana 2022

Read "Jazz Festival Ljubljana 2022" reviewed by Ziga Koritnik

A collection of photos from the Jazz festival Ljubljana in Slovenia from June 15, 2022 to June 18, 2022 featuring Hamid Drake, Ndoho Ange, Jan Bang, Jamie Saft, Pasquale Mirra, Joshua Abrams, Miha Gantar, Musician Name, Gerry Hemingway, Irreversible Entenglements, Jure Pukl, Peter Evans, Nasheet Waits, Casu Tanrikulu, Tobias Delius, Greg Cohen, Anouar Brahem, Julien Desprez, Gordon Grdina, Mat Maneri, Christian Lillinger, Samo Salamon, Bostjan Gombac, Ava Mendoza, Khmyr, Mats Gustafsson and Fire! Orchestra CBA Ljubljana, and many others, ...

Album Review

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

Read "Blue Maqams" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Oud-master Anouar Brahem's instantly intoxicating, Blue Maqams, caps off a truly remarkable year for ECM Records. Just think, the label's release schedule this year included essential recordings by Benedikt Jahnel Trio's The Invariant, Django Bates' breakthrough The Study of Touch, Colin Vallon Trio's Danse, Vijay Iyer Sextet's Far From Over, and Gary Peacock's Tangents, all of them at once mysterious, challenging, and ultimately rewarding upon each listen. A magam defines traditional Arab musical phrases, tones, notes and melodies ...

Album Review

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

Read "Blue Maqams" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Tunisian oudist/composer Anouar Brahem has been playing with jazz improvisers since the 1980s. But his earliest ECM recordings, Barzakh (1991) and Conte de l'Incroyable Amour (1992) stayed firmly in the Arabic music tradition. His recordings with jazz players began with Madar (1994) with saxophonist Jan Garbarek and tabla player Shaukat Hussain; Thimar (1997) with bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist John Surman made a fuller synthesis of both traditions. Blue Maqams takes the approach further, bringing Brahem's Arabic music to a ...

Album Review

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

Read "Blue Maqams" reviewed by John Kelman

Following an unusually long, five-year gap between 2009's low register-driven The Astounding Eyes of Rita and 2014's particularly ambitious orchestral collaboration, Souvenance, Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem returns with Blue Maqams, another game-changing release on ECM Records. Change--or, in some cases, natural evolution--has never been hard to find on Brahem's previous nine albums for the label, the oudist's consistent home (barring his soundtrack to The Silences of the Palace, release in 1994 by Caroline) since his ethno-centric trio date, Barzakh (1991). ...

Album Review

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

Read "Blue Maqams" reviewed by Mario Calvitti

Fin dal suo disco d'esordio (Barzakh del 1991, pubblicato, come tutti i successivi lavori, dalla ECM e preceduto solo da alcune cassette autoprodotte) il compositore e suonatore di oud tunisino Anouar Brahem è stato tra i principali esponenti di una musica a cavallo tra Medio Oriente e Occidente, cercando una fusione tra musica araba, improvvisazione jazzistica e musica classica europea, insieme al coetaneo collega libanese Rabih Abou-Khalil che lo ha preceduto di qualche anno. Il suo ultimo lavoro, Blue Maqams, ...

Live Review

Anouar Brahem at Jazzablanca Festival 2015

Read "Anouar Brahem at Jazzablanca Festival 2015" reviewed by Mehdi El Mouden

Anouar Brahem Hippodrome Anfa Jazzablanca Festival Casablanca, MoroccoApril 20, 2015 Tunisian oudist/ composer Anouar Brahem is widely acclaimed as a pioneer of the fusion between Middle Eastern music and jazz, with a career spanning over thirty years. In the beginning of the nineties he contributed to the oud celebration spreading in the western world through a music that brought together evasive poetry with elegant arrangements. Well-versed in classical Arabic tenets, his solos ...

Album Review

Anouar Brahem: Souvenance

Read "Souvenance" reviewed by Mario Calvitti

Sei anni dopo il precedente The Astounding Eyes of Rita, il tunisino Anouar Brahem ritorna con un nuovo progetto. Il lungo intervallo è dovuto agli avvenimenti politici che dalla fine del 2010 hanno interessato tutto il Nordafrica a partire dalla Tunisia dando origine alla cosiddetta 'Primavera araba' evocata dal titolo del disco e dalla foto di copertina, e che hanno avuto un profondo impatto emotivo sul compositore con l'alternarsi di speranze e timori, anche se la musica, a detta dello ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Blue Maqams

ECM Records



ECM Records


Le Voyage De Sahar

ECM Records



ECM Records


Le Pas Du Chat Noir

ECM Records




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