Sunday, October 25, 2009
The astounding eyes of Rita
Just back from Mannheim and a gorgeous concert by the Anouar Brahem quartet, based on this album, The astounding eyes of Rita and held to commemorate 40 yrs. of the ECM label. Fragments can be heard on the ECM site, the album itself is on Spotify.
The instruments used are oud, bass clarinet, bass guitar and darbouka/percussion.
Particularly recommend Stopover at Djibouti and For no apparent reason, just because I'm listening to the album for the first time tonight, and these tracks seem to best fit the concert as I remember it.
I was expecting something quieter and more "chamber music" like, but the group had a surprisingly dark sound through the bass clarinet and bass guitar, a much more melodic and folk based feel than recent Brahem recordings, though his Arabic roots still dominate, and the Darbouka and bass give it a dynamic, upbeat pulse also seldom present on his previous albums. In parts it was reminiscent of folk-jazz groups like Jimmy Giuffre's fifties ensembles, in other parts I was reminded more of an almost voodoo like, hypnotic feel. Particularly nice was the bass clarinet playing of Klaus Gesing, using the entire register of the instrument and tweaking it to produce the occasional blues or New Orleans riff; Björn Meyer's bass also took in some fine excursions and contributed to some soulful interludes. The plucked Oud and the metallic sound of the Darbouka completed the rich palette of sound generated by the quartet. The interaction of all four instruments was an astounding sonic event- there were so many exquisite moments. The concert was sold out and the audience reaction ecstatic.