All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

14

Ruba Shamshoum: Shamat

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Though a graduate of Dublin's Newpark Music Centre in jazz performance, Ruba Shamshoum's delightful debut CD doesn't fall neatly into any particular category. What does these days? The Palestinian-born, Dublin-based singer infuses elements of jazz with her Middle Eastern roots on these nine originals, ably backed by some of the country's finest musicians, who straddle the fields of contemporary jazz, folk and improvised music. A little of all these strands percolate through the compositions. Shamshoum delivers most of the songs in Arabic, a language whose innate musicality seems tailor-made for the poetic sensibility of these songs of love, kinship and soul-searching. No Arabic vocal diva, Shamshoum stylishly sidesteps stereotypes and instead maps out a highly contemporary and personal course.

Shamshoum's voice is a thing of beauty, the seduction immediate from the first notes of "Randomness of Beauty Spots." Not just a pretty voice, much of her vocal appeal lies in the subtle shifts of weight in her phrasing and the flow of sounds that imbue the songs with their emotional ambiance. Her accompanists are significant partners in the process. Aleka Potinga's cello and Matthew Jacobson's hand percussion lend Arabic textures to this opening track, while Orlando Molina 's guitar and Barry Rycraft's deft double bass rhythms are more jazz oriented. Against this hybrid soundscape Shamshoum glides between gently undulating narrative, punchy rhythmic mantras and high-pitched wordless flight, culminating in a powerful finale. It's an impressive opener that stays with you.

Brushes, bass and painterly guitar accompany Shamshoum's layered vocals on the caressing slower number "Hana," with Matthew Berrill's softly lilting clarinet coloring the spaces. Sparer still the arrangement on "Carousel of Love," with acoustic guitar the sole foil to Shamshoum, who flits between solo and harmonically layerd vocals. Lyrically, love provides the grist to Shamshoum's mill, her tales sometimes simple, as on the breezy, bass-driven "Lalya," or hauntingly poetic, notably on "La Yayl La Trooh," where her verse evokes the lyricism of the Arabic romantic poets:

'white of jasmine and gardenias too/red of poppies and pomegranates/green, pure of cactus and fig/a paradise full of song/black/never once does the night last.' Or this from the sunny "Fuqaati," where cello, guitar and voice entwine over the gentle swing of brushes and bass: 'Across the mountains/across the sea/take me in your skies/let the wind sew your path.'

There's poetry of a different kind on "Genesis of the Bubble," where Shashoum's spoken-word recital is backed by abstract, edgy collective improvisation from Potinga, Molina and Jacobson that's evocative, at least in mood, of the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star." Irresistible, the rhythmically cantering "Burkan," with pianist Jay Wilson adding another texture; Molina's sinuous electric guitar improvisation and Potinga's infectious cello motif are both memorable but its Shamshoum's powerful vocal that most captivates here. Intimacy is the key on "Ya Layl La Trooh," a slow-waltzing anthem given the small jazz ensemble treatment, with Berrill's clarinet dovetailing with Shamshoum's to gorgeous effect.

With her beguiling debut—which should win some converts to the beauty of the Arabic language—Shamshoum blurs the lines between what might be considered radio-friendly fare, smouldering balladry and more progressive ventures. It's the accomplished work of an emerging talent—one that could go far.

Track Listing: Randomness of Beauty Spots; Hana; Carousel of Love; In the Depth; Genesis of the Bubble; Fuqatti; Layla; Burkan; La Layl La Trooh.

Personnel: Ruba Shamshoum: lead and backing vocals; Orlando Molina: guitar; Barry Rycraft: double bass; Matthew Jacobson: drums; Aleka Potinga: cello; Matthew Berrill: clarinet; Jay Wilson: piano.

Title: Shamat | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Plus One CD/LP/Track Review
Plus One
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read "The Urmuz Epigrams" CD/LP/Track Review The Urmuz Epigrams
by Don Phipps
Published: April 9, 2018
Read "Sing Me Some Cry" CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by John Sharpe
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Ain't Who I Was" CD/LP/Track Review Ain't Who I Was
by Doug Collette
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Third Stage of Elegance" CD/LP/Track Review Third Stage of Elegance
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Faces and Places" CD/LP/Track Review Faces and Places
by Kris Perdew
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "The Great Nostalgist" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Nostalgist
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 10, 2018