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...

361

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
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 combinations. His ECM sound—with notable exceptions including Keith Jarrett's Standard Trio and Trio Beyond, to name two—leans toward spaciousness and subtlety with an egalitarian chamber music approach. The Astounding Eyes of Rita fits into that chamber aesthetic, its quartet teaming German bass clarinetist Gesing with Brahem's Middle Eastern oud, backed by Swedish bassist Bjorn Meyer—known best for his groove-heavy Zen-Funk work in Nik Bärtsch's Ronin—and Lebanese percussionist Khaled Yassine, to make a tranquil world music that embraces the inspired introspection and organic breathing room that has become de rigueur with the German record label.

The oud, the ancestor to the Western lute, is not your everyday jazz instrument. The pear-shaped, big-bodied string instrument that, to the uneducated ear, doesn't sound hugely different from the acoustic guitar, is sharper in tone, perhaps, and more succinct in its notations. The bass clarinet adds a Western element; introduced to many by Bennie Maupin's dark wood moaning within the sonic conglomeration of Miles Davis' Bitch's Brew (Columbia, 1969), its divine sound, showcased here in a quartet setting, is too seldom heard in jazz. The darbouka—a Middle-Eastern goblet drum with a crisp, resonant pop—bolsters the world music flavor of the set.

"The Lover of Beirut" has a peaceful feeling—restrained, unhurried and spiritual. "Dance With Waves" gives off a glow of peaceful momentum, while "Stopover At Djibouti" evokes images of teaming streets, gregarious interactions and convivial equanimity, the richly mellifluous voice of the bass clarinet punctuated by the concise declarations of the oud and darbouka.

The title tune explores the mysteries and the beauty of "Rita's" eyes, sounding like a celebration of something holy. Indeed, the quartet's musical immersion in things revered gives the Astounding Eyes of Rita a feeling of deep spirituality expressed by these serenely gorgeous sounds.

Track Listing: The Lover of Beirut; Dance With Waves; Stopover at Djibouti; The Astounding Eyes of Rita; Al Birwa; Galilee Mon Amour; Waking State; For No Apparent Reason.

Personnel: Anouar Brahem: oud; Klaus Gesing: bass clarinet; Björn Meyer: bass; Khaled Yassine: darbouka, bendir.

Title: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Blue Maqams

Blue Maqams

ECM Records
2017

buy
Souvenance

Souvenance

ECM Records
2015

buy
 

Vague

ECM Records
2003

buy
Le Pas Du Chat Noir

Le Pas Du Chat Noir

ECM Records
2002

buy

Related Articles

Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read Super Mood CD/LP/Track Review
Super Mood
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2018
Read Beheaded Totem CD/LP/Track Review
Beheaded Totem
by James Fleming
Published: September 24, 2018
Read New Hope CD/LP/Track Review
New Hope
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2018
Read The Nobuki Takamen Trio CD/LP/Track Review
The Nobuki Takamen Trio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 23, 2018
Read "Helix" CD/LP/Track Review Helix
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 4, 2018
Read "Vortex" CD/LP/Track Review Vortex
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 9, 2018
Read "Modern Lore" CD/LP/Track Review Modern Lore
by Doug Collette
Published: February 11, 2018
Read "Flux Reflux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Criss Cross" CD/LP/Track Review Criss Cross
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Life On Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Life On Earth
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 18, 2018