Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

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COMPOSERS: Anouar Brahem
ALBUM TITLE: Anouar Brahem
WORKS: Blue Maqams
PERFORMER: Anouar Brahem (oud), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Django Bates (piano)


Western jazz musicians were exploring Arabic music and maqams(modes) half a century ago, long before ‘world music’ became a scene. But Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem is one of a few Arabic classical players to reverse the creative flow, drawn to the freedoms offered by modern jazz. Twenty-five years on from his first jazz collaboration, this new album is a reminder of just how natural the combination of blue notes and taqsim
(the traditional form of improvisation) can be in a master’s hands. The controlled flow of the sound in which the players’ solo parts are suspended, along with the oud’s mellow almost rumbling tone makes for a seductive, mood-altering experience. Holland and DeJohnette bring a refined quality to the session. Holland’s graceful bass winds its way through Brahem’s spacious scores, while drummer DeJohnette flitters and darts. Bates’s contribution – the piano a shimmering light source –
is a revelation.

Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.