288

Ras Deshen: Ras Deshen: From Ethiopian Music to Contemporary Jazz

By

Sign in to view read count
Given the considerable number of African Jews living in Ethiopia, it makes perfect cultural sense for Israeli pianist Yitzhak Yedid to team up with Ethiopian sax man and vocalist Abatte Barihun to explore the music of Ethiopia on Ras Deshen, a work which mines the common musical ground shared by their countries. Yedid and Abatte performed selections from the disc recently at a reception at Alice Tully Hall and didn't let the crowd's lack of attentiveness diminish the passion of their playing.

The opening "Anchi Hoye, written by Abatte, is named for one of the four modes of Ethiopian music. Abatte plays the tenor with a measured tension and clear tenderness that manages to reference both Pres and Trane. Yedid's brooding timbre, interior dialogue and chord progressions are so reminiscent of Keith Jarrett that his solo could be dropped seamlessly into the grooves of The Köln Concert.

On "Batti, Abatte enhances his soprano saxophone with soaring vocals in Amharic. When he performed this song at the reception, his voice cut through the conversation and, at least momentarily, demanded everyone's attention. Abatte's tenor on "Yehar Shererit has a palpable R&B/gospel tinge, with an occasional gutbucket growl added for good measure, working in tandem with Yedid's playful boogie-woogie chaos. "Fikir is a beautifully ruminative discourse that sounds quite Middle Eastern in its execution, with Abatte's serpentine tenor weaving around Yedid's lush, symphonic piano riffs.

Yedid lays out on "Birtukane, giving the floor to Fentahon Malessa on krar, an Ethiopian lyre that sounds close to a guitar and gives the music another rich dimension. On "Ambassel, another modal tune, Abatte solos powerfully over Malessa's repeated figure. Yedid lays out again and one can only wonder how all three instruments would have sounded together.

Perhaps the disc's most arresting tune, however, is "Behatito Kadus Kadus. With Yedid vamping in a Fats Waller vein, Abatte lifts his voice again and could be singing about a hellhound on his trail, instead of invoking a prayer. Abatte's tenor grooves between Ethiopia and the Mississippi Delta, ending this excellent disc on a high note.

Track Listing: Anchi Hoye; Batti; Yehar Shererit; Fikir; Birtukane; Nafkote; Ambassel; Behatito Kadus Kadus.

Personnel: Yitzhak Yedid: piano; Abatte Barihun: saxophone and voice; Fentahon Malessa: krar.

Title: Ras Deshen: From Ethiopian Music to Contemporary Jazz | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: AB


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Two Roads" CD/LP/Track Review Two Roads
by Jim Olin
Published: May 12, 2017
Read "Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Any Other Way" CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Triple Double" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Home Counties" CD/LP/Track Review Home Counties
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 10, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.