Recent listening, current

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

05. Rabih Abou-Khalil / Bukra (1988)

Rabih Abou-Khalil's contributions to the vast world music palette are all so consistently good, yet at the same time, the sound and presiding mood of each one is distinct from the next. I'm always excited to hear one that is new to me. With Bukra, American jazz instrumentation and improvisational technique from Sonny Fortune (alto) melds together with Abou-Khalil's oud in Arabic flavored rhythms and melodies. They are supported by bassist Glen Moore and percussionists Glen Velez and Ramesh Shotham, who chase and tumble like skylarks in pursuit of the rhythm. Moore, a founding member in the Oregon ensemble, is certainly comfortable within this context. But everyone's talents are capitalized: Shotham's interest in jazz and rock, Velez's career proficiency with diverse world musics, and Fortune's jazz background are all harnessed to their full potential. Look out for Fortune's impassioned solo in "Nayla," or his alarming intro to "Kibbeh." Due to the oud's fast decay, in longer passages, Abou-Khalil employs juicy slides and bouts of tremolo picking that produce different textures and affect his choice of phrasing. His pensive and aptly titled "Reflections" closes the album, which always causes me to sit in silence for a few minutes, as if watching the musical caravan vanish in the dark distance.

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