Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jan Garbarek & Anouar Brahem - Madar


On this CD Jan Garbarek (doubling on tenor and soprano) is accompanied only by Anouar Brahem on oud and Ustad Shaukat Hussain's tabla. Garbarek shows off his distinctive tones and lyricism on a set of gradually developing group originals, two of which are based on traditional Norwegian melodies. It may take some time for listeners to get into this music and notice the fire beneath the ice but the close communication between the players is apparent from the start. Jan Garbarek has succeeded in carving out his own unique niche in improvised music and Madar (which also has individual features for Brahem and Shaukat) is a good example of how he can create a great deal out of what seems like very little. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Jan Garbarek's career has always followed 2 paths: his work with his own group and his collaborative output. The former has been consistent in terms of quality, but since the 90's has gradually become more and more predictable; the latter remains interesting and varied but is not always completely successful. This album falls firmly into the latter category. It starts off interestingly enough with all 3 musicians featuring on Sull Lull (a Garbarek arrangement of a Norwegian folk tune) and continues with the title track, a Garbarek and Brahem co-composition. Next, Sebika sees Garbarek and Brahem overdubbing solos onto a racing, repetitive oud pattern. Then after half an hour we drift off into solo territory - first 2 tracks by Brahem and then one behemoth of a tabla solo by Hussain. Most collaborations on ECM are instigated by label boss and producer Manfred Eicher, bringing together musicians from his roster who he thinks would work well together. Strange then that so much of this album should be given over to solo tracks. There's nothing wrong with the tracks themselves, other than they belong on solo albums. What listeners really want to hear is these 3 great players interacting, and with no harmonic instrument the musicians could hardly complain of a lack of creative breathing space. This point is emphasised by Epilogue. It's less than a minute long but what is a piano vignette doing here other than filling space that should have been left empty? Suspiciously no one takes credit for it! Fortunately, sense is restored towards the end and both Joron (another traditional Norwegian melody) and Qaws feature more than one player. Otherwise things are pretty much as you would expect. Typical ECM production, very spacious with copious amounts of reverb. Sometimes this can sound overly austere, but here it works well, making the drones hang in the air and giving them a deliciously haunting quality. Garbarek is as distinctive as ever, although this is not his best performance and he does rely on some trusty old phrases from time to time. Brahem is a revelation and the oud (or Arabic lute) is such a wonderful sounding instrument. Overall, of the 77 minutes of music on offer, there is a very good 50-minute album lurking in here, you just need to programme your CD player to get it out. The 3 musicians all have strong voices on their respective instruments and when they interact the playing is always excellent and on occasions really inspired. A qualified success. - by Nim-Chimpsky, Amazon.co.uk

Artist: Jan Garbarek, Anouar Brahem & Shaukat Hussain
Album: Madar
Year: 1994
Label: ECM
Runtime: 77:34

Tracks:
1.  Sull Lull (Traditional) 16:51
2.  Madar (Jan Garbarek/Anouar Brahem) 11:14
3.  Sebika (Anouar Brahem) 5:32
4.  Bahia (Anouar Brahem) 10:20
5.  Ramy (Anouar Brahem) 3:00
6.  Jaw (Ustad Shaukat Hussain) 8:04
7.  Joron (Traditional) 6:29
8.  Qaws (Jan Garbarek/Anouar Brahem) 15:12
9.  Epilogue 0:52

Personnel:
Jan Garbarek (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone)
Anouar Brahem (Oud)
Ustad Shaukat Hussain (Tabla)



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