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ALBUM REVIEWS

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 REVIEWS

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 REVIEWS

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). ...

LIVE REVIEWS

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Souvenance

Read "Souvenance" reviewed by John Kelman

If we are, in the final analysis, the sum total of our experiences, then it stands to reason that the work of musicians (and other artists) is a reflection of the events that touch their lives. Souvenance means “recollection," and if there is not, as oudist Anouar Brahem claims, “a direct link between my compositions and the events taking place in Tunisia," then there's little doubt that the album's cover image--taken by Nacer Talef in the Tunisian capital of Tunis ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Montreal Jazz Festival 2011

Read "Montreal Jazz Festival 2011" reviewed by John Kelman

Days 1-3 | Days 4- 6 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Montreal, Canada June 25- July 4, 2011After a hiatus in 2010, in order to take a three-week Norwegian road trip, it's great to get back to the festival that the Guinness Book of Records calls “The biggest jazz festival in the world." But for those who think such a designation has to mean a populist-driven festival, geared towards accessibility and big ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita

Read "The Astounding Eyes of Rita" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

The Astounding Eyes of Rita rings to life on four resonant notes from Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem, joined in short order by the deep, rich tone of Klaus Gesing's bass clarinet. The music sounds ancient, like something from an old civilization, full of past truths that still hold true. Manfred Eicher, the man in charge at ECM Records, has been known to inspire, from talented artists, consistently beautiful and sometimes eccentric (American ethno-centricity speaking) music from unusual instrumental ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita

Read "The Astounding Eyes of Rita" reviewed by John Kelman

In the world of the oud--the fretless, Middle Eastern incarnation of the lute--there are three artists who are moving the instrument--and its centuries-old tradition--forward. Tunisian-born Dhafer Youssef has explored the integration of technology and western classicism on Divine Shadows (Jazzland, 2006), while Lebanese-born Rabih Abou-Khalil has investigated a nexus with horn-driven large ensemble on The Cactus of Knowledge (Enja, 2001). Anouar Brahem, since first emerging on ECM with Barzakh (1991), has explored more nuanced territory, between his longstanding Astrakan Café ...

INTERVIEWS

Anouar Brahem: Innovative Weaver of Musical Heritages

Read "Anouar Brahem: Innovative Weaver of Musical Heritages" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem's eighth solo release, Voyage de Sahar (ECM, 2006), is another testimony to the magnificent way that he manages to weave influences and references from the rich and beautiful heritage of Arabic world with elements of Andalusian music and modern jazz, and to the innovative way in which Brahem suggests the oud as a leading instrument in Western and Arabic music. For the first time in his 15-year relationship with the prestigious German ECM label, Brahem ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar

Read "Le Voyage de Sahar" reviewed by Budd Kopman

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar

Read "Le Voyage de Sahar" reviewed by Nenad Georgievski

Many of ECM's standout albums are a result of rich confluences of jazz, classical and world music sensibilities. The authors of those albums have a thorough, deep knowledge and understanding of each tradition, and most of the time the intersections between the different traditions are blessed with good results.

Such is the case with Anouar Brahem. His music clearly dwells in different worlds, deeply rooted in Arabic music yet very open to influences from jazz and classical traditions, among others. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar

Read "Le Voyage de Sahar" reviewed by John Kelman

Anouar Brahem's last international release, Le Pas du Chat Noir (ECM, 2002), was something of a watershed for the Tunisian oudist. Earlier records like Khomsa (ECM, 1995) and Thimar (ECM, 1998) found him exploring the nexus between traditional Middle Eastern harmonies and a more open-minded improvisational approach with artists like reed player John Surman, bassists Dave Holland and Palle Danielsson, and drummer Jon Christensen. But Le Pas du Chat Noir placed a stronger emphasis on composition and influences that went ...