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Anouar Brahem: Thimar

Glenn Astarita By

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The oud is an ancient short-necked, plucked Arabic instrument. On Thimar, East meets West with oud instrumentalist Anouar Brahem along with jazz masters, saxophonist/bass clarinetist John Surman and bassist Dave Holland. The opener, "Badhra," commences with Surman's light as a feather soprano work while Holland and Brahem successively join the festivities as if they were doing one of those "let's introduce the band" exercises. "Taiwin" leans toward the Arabic end of the spectrum as Holland and Brahem perform Middle Eastern unison lines. Holland's rich, exuberant sound provides a huge bottom for Surman and Brahem while also providing tonal color and rhythmic balance. This attribute serves as an interesting contrast to Brahem's oud. "Mazad" features some extended ensemble work from the Trio. The muscular rhythmic pulse is provided by Holland and Brahem while Surman develops attractive themes with his fluid and crystal clear soprano work. Here, Surman's phrasing and nimble tone seems angelic and my! stical.

The entire recording is amiable, wonderfully produced and absorbing. The ever present Middle Eastern feel is always an underlying factor; however, Holland did his homework to devise and implement the unorthodox pulse required to pull this off. Surman rides the top and provides the nuance and thematic movements. The entire project is captivating yet at times seems innocent and humble as if this were a spiritual exercise. Either way you look at it Thimar is entertaining and impressive. There's a lot going on here. Recommended.

Track Listing: Badhra; Kashf; Houdouth; Talwin; Waqt; Uns; Al Hizam Al Dhahbi; Qurb; Mazad; Kernow; Hulmu Rabia.

Personnel: Anouar Brahem: oud; John Surman: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet; Dave Holland: bass.

Title: Thimar | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: ECM Records

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