352

Toufic Farroukh: Tootya

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Toufic Farroukh: Tootya On its own terms, Lebanese saxophonist Toufic Farroukh's Tootya is largely a success. What it seeks to be is a sophisticated—and at times pretentious—mash-up of Arabic popular and light-classical music with techno beats, Western pop, and a little Latin jazz, presumably targeted at upper middle class listeners in the Middle East and their brothers and sisters in the worldwide diaspora.

It's perhaps more interesting to listen to Tootya as a jazz album, if for no other reason than that Farroukh bursts out in the middle of the rather slick opener, "Systole Diastole," with an angular solo that sounds a shade like Sonny Fortune on Miles Davis' Agharta (CBS, 1975). As a jazz record, the surest reference point for this release is another Miles Davis record with a similar-sounding title: Tutu (Warner Bros., 1986).

With Tutu, Tootya shares lush production values and an unabashedly populist sentiment (this is not the earnest, acoustic Arabic jazz fusion you will hear elsewhere), as well as an '80s-era light funk beat. As with the Davis record, Farroukh's album is saved from descending into tasteful but ultimately hollow easy listening by unexpectedly strong solos (like those of flutist Magic Malik) and an energized mixing of styles. Farroukh's stylistic palette is, if anything, more audaciously broad ranging than even Davis', a fact highlighted by the album's recording locations in both Beirut and Paris.

Especially strong are the gloriously large-scale songs performed by vocalist Rima Khcheich, particularly "Elhob ?!"—a tribute to legendary Egyptian vocalist Oum Kalthoum. The number is based on Ehyptian composer Baligh Hamdi's "El Hob Koullo" and features Bruno Caviglia on delightfully loud rock 'n roll guitar.

The fast Arabic funk of "Scarecrow and peacock," in addition to a good oud line and a fine flute solo by Malik, offers a choir singing what sounds uncannily like Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack." (How could it be? Then again, how could it not be?)

Not everything works here: the techno pulse is sometimes wearing, the Latin jazz experiments are less than convincing, the rap by a certain Moe on the last track is a little dubious. Nevertheless, no number goes by without something arresting—frequently a solo on accordion or ney, or a stirring passage by the Beirut orchestra—and many of the tracks will delight fans of unapologetic cross-genre experiments.

Track Listing: Systole diastole; Hanina; Radio city; Ya Nassim Alrouh; Destins et desires; The girl from gypsy moon; Elhob ?!; Cendres; Scarecrow and peacock; Ya Habibi; Long Distance Call (LDC); Only Lonely.

Personnel: Toufic Farroukh: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, bouzouk, percussion, compositions, arrangements; Rima Khcheich: lead vocals (2, 7, 10); Jeanne Added: lead vocals (5); Moe: rap (12); Tony Deeb: accordion; Samir Siblini: ney; Charbel Rouhana: oud; Gilbert Yammine: kanoun; Michel Khairalla: violin; Antoine Khalif

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: O Plus | Style: Fringes of Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read Numbers CD/LP/Track Review Numbers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 30, 2017
Read The Busker CD/LP/Track Review The Busker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 30, 2017
Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 30, 2017
Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Away With You" CD/LP/Track Review Away With You
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "The Traveller's Tale" CD/LP/Track Review The Traveller's Tale
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Is It Me...?" CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Pasar Klewer" CD/LP/Track Review Pasar Klewer
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016

Enhance Your AAJ Experience

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!