361

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita 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 Bartsch'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; Bjorn Meyer: bass; Khaled Yassine: darbouka, bendir.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Live At Zaal 100" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Zaal 100
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "La vie commence ici" CD/LP/Track Review La vie commence ici
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "Billows Of Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "What was said" CD/LP/Track Review What was said
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "Münster Bern" CD/LP/Track Review Münster Bern
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!