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Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Anouar Brahem
Blue Maqams
Anouar Brahem (oud), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Django Bates (piano)
ECM 576 7265


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.