8 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Since his 1991 debut, Tunisia-born oud player Anouar Brahem has released a string of excellent albums that blend (to varying degrees) traditional Middle Eastern styles with a modern approach rooted in Western improvisation and classical music. This often-lively 2009 effort has a warm pulse thanks to the first-time meeting of clarinetist Klaus Gesing, acoustic bass guitarist Bjorn Meyer, and percussionist Khaled Yassine, who brings a dancing sense of rhythm (on darbouka and bendir) to songs like “Stopover at Djibouti.” (Brahem had already played with each of them individually.) A fretless Middle Eastern lute, the oud works great alongside clarinet despite being in the same sonic range: the seamless sound between the two is a strength on the title track, while at other times his plucking is a galaxy away from the free-flowing woodwind, as on the duet “Waking State.” Those looking for the band in robust forward motion can turn to “Al Birwa,” while the stately “Dance with Waves” is more undulating.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Since his 1991 debut, Tunisia-born oud player Anouar Brahem has released a string of excellent albums that blend (to varying degrees) traditional Middle Eastern styles with a modern approach rooted in Western improvisation and classical music. This often-lively 2009 effort has a warm pulse thanks to the first-time meeting of clarinetist Klaus Gesing, acoustic bass guitarist Bjorn Meyer, and percussionist Khaled Yassine, who brings a dancing sense of rhythm (on darbouka and bendir) to songs like “Stopover at Djibouti.” (Brahem had already played with each of them individually.) A fretless Middle Eastern lute, the oud works great alongside clarinet despite being in the same sonic range: the seamless sound between the two is a strength on the title track, while at other times his plucking is a galaxy away from the free-flowing woodwind, as on the duet “Waking State.” Those looking for the band in robust forward motion can turn to “Al Birwa,” while the stately “Dance with Waves” is more undulating.

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