As a man living in the Middle East, I truly do appreciate the music from that area. The rhythm is always mystical and very highly personal. You can feel the instruments and the musical tones which the artist wants you to feel. The musician wants to take you on a trip. They want to take you to a world unlike any other. And in this album, ANOUAR BRAHEM manages to do just that.
is a megastar in the Maghreb (North Africa) and in France! He is a great artist. He manages to sound modern and archaic at the same time. His most recent previous album, Astrakan Cafe, evokes a North Africa, with his oud accompanied by clarinet and percussion. My favorite of his previous albums, Compte de l'Incroyable Amour, is a work of great spirituality and heart.
This album, Le Pas Du Chat Noir, with accompaniment from a piano and clarinet, sounds like sophisticated Parisian parlor art song, but of what era? Debussy's? Piaf's? Ravel's? Brahem's!
Typically perfect ECM audio engineering allows the listener to fall deeply into this music's thrall. Highly recommended
Oudist Brahem branches out to embrace a mellow form of Parisian street music, improvising along with pianist Francois Couturier and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier. Although the trio often echoes the Argentine tangos of Astor Piazolla, they shy away from the forceful grandeur of the style, mining a mellower, slightly Shadowfax-y, New Age-ish sound. Muted strains of Arabic classical, Argentine tango and Parisian musette mix with equal ease, and while the overall sound may be a bit goopy, it's also quite engaging. Relaxing, amorphous music with considerable richness and depth.
Anouar Brahem is an artist of incredible vision and talent - each one of his releases is a sonic and cultural delight, taking the listener on a journey filled with wonder and beauty. This, his latest recording, is one of his best. In the notes to the CD, Brahem is quotes as saying that after recording his THIMAR album, the resulting physical and artistic exhaustion caused him to set aside his oud for a while - something he said he had never before done. Turning his musical ideas and expression to his piano, Brahem created the pieces recorded here. When he took these ideas into the studio (and taking his oud along with him), along with colleagues François Coutourier (piano) and Jean-Louis Matinier (accordion), his ideas were brought beautifully to fruition. The result is one of the most beautiful recordings I have ever heard.
The pieces having been written on the piano, that instrument takes the lead - but the oud and the accordion have a lot to say as well, and their voices blend effortlessly with that of the keyboard. Brahem is a master not only at composition and performing, but, in his arrangements, and in the very choosing of his accompanying musicians, shows a brilliance that is breathtaking. Through the various groupings that he has assembled on his recordings, he endows his music with a strength and scope that is stunning - it takes on a life of its own, and grows far beyond whatever boundaries smaller minds might employ to contain it by definition.
This is `world music' in the deepest, spiritual sense of the phrase - political frontiers are vanquished and erased, while cultures are honored, respected and mingled. Few other contemporary artists come to mind who continually create on this level - Stephan Micus is one. Brahem's last album, ASTRAKAN CAFÉ, alluded to this meeting and convergence of styles - with each successive release, Brahem furthers his cause (and that of the open-minded, eager-to-explore listener). Each and every track included here is an absolute gem. Don't approach this album with the expectations of hearing another outing in which Brahem `simply' dazzles the listener with the beauty and technique of his oud playing (and he is a master of that instrument, let there be no doubt of that...) - approach it instead with an open mind and ear, and marvel at the journey on which you are to be led.
Anouar Brahem has turned out an impressive series of recordings over the past ten years. This one is his most sublime yet. Brahem states that all the music here "emerged from the keys of a piano," which perhaps doesn't sound very unusual, except for the fact that over his career (and this CD is no different) he has pretty much limited his on-recording play to the oud. In "Le Pas" three instruments--oud, accordion, and piano--are featured, and most of the time only one or two are playing. The result is a minimalist kind of jazz full of wandering and subliminal paths, the kind of music that one can either play in the background during other creative activities, or deliberately wander along with. Don't expect dramatic climaxes or fast paces in this fare; the emphasis is more on the wistful, the reflective, and the sympathetic.
This is an absolutely essential recording!
...............ANOUAR BRAHEM - a portrait:
He was born on October 1957, in Halfaouine, in the center of Tunis' Medina.
Positively supported by his father, he starts introduction to music and especially to lute at the age of 10.
He studies then in the Tunis National Music Conservatory.
In the meantime, he is tought during 10 years by the great Master Ali Sitri, and gets through him a deep knowledge of traditional arabian music.
Step by step, his curiosity pushes him to listen to other musical expressions: mediteranean musics, Iran, India, and Jazz.
His musical surroudings are basically and widely dominated by popular songs in which lute has only a side instrument place.
Thus, Anouar Brahem's name is tightly attached to instrumental music more than popular songs: from the beginning, he considers that lute is a quite important instrument within arabian music, and he wants to give lute his nobel place within the musical context. For this reason and because he feels passionated by his instrument, he started performing solo concerts very soon.
In 1981, he decides to go to Paris, cosmopolitan city above all. He meets there plenty of musicians coming from very different horizons, and different countries and cultures.
He remained there for several years, playing lute solo concerts in festivals, and collaborating with many artits such as choreographer Maurice Béjart.
Back to Carthage, he creates Liqua 85. For this, he brings together some tunisian, turkish and french jazz essentiel musicians: Abdelwaheb Berbeche, Erköse brothers, François Jeanneau, Jean-Paul Céléa...
Liqua 85, received the Great National Award of Music in France.
In 1987, he goes back to Tunis, and accepts the leadership of the Musical Ensemble of the City of Tunis, for which he will compose several pieces among them Ennaouara el Achiqua, born from a meeting between him and the poet Ali Louati. Those compositions bring him to the step of uncontested great national composer in Tunisia.
Then follow rich and positive collaborations, very important to his carreer:
- Manfred Eicher, german producer ECM Records, for whom he records 4 albums: Barzach, Conte de l'Incroyable Amour, Madar, Khomsa.
Those albums receive an incredible welcome by the audience, and the international press.
- musicians Jan Garbarek, Richard Galliano, Manu Katché...
He is now mentionned among the greatest musicians on the international scene, and plays concerts all over the world, on the most prestigious places: Washington Square Chruch in New-York, New-Orleans Jazz Festival (USA), Frankfurt International Jazz Festival (Germany), Lumine Hall in Tokyo (Japan), Royal Academy of Music in London (GB), Zürich International Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Uméa Jazz Festival (Sweden), Theater of Beyrouth (Liban)...
On January 1995, he is invited for an inaugural conert of the quite new Cité de la Musique in Paris.
Anouar Brahem composed lots of original musics for movies and theater pieces: Nouri Bouzid's Sabots en Or and Bezness, Ferid Boughedir's "Halfaouine", and Moufida Tlati's Les Silences du Palais.
The hudge success of Ritek Ma Naaref Ouin, interpreted by the tunisian singer Lotfi Bouchnak, makes us discover an unexpected talent of Anouar Brahem as a popular songs composer.
" He is the best lute player in Tunisia" his Master Ali Sriti says about him, " his fingering and playing the strings are unique and his own secret."