Recent listening, current

Friday, August 30, 2013

128. Rabih Abou-Khalil / Blue Camel (1992)

Like Bukra, 1992's Blue Camel is a stimulating set of jazz fusion with roots in traditional Turkish and Middle Eastern music. Rabih Abou-Khalil's catalog is like a treasure box filled with gems but I think this collection ranks among his best efforts. Instrumentation (alto sax, oud, frame drums, percussion, trumpets, and bass) is similar to the aforementioned Bukra and has similar personnel in Ramesh Shotham. Certainly Charlie Mariano is capable of fusing these disparate musical worlds, and his improvisations with the alto are notable. The album begins with Mariano's tacit, contemplative solo introduction to "Sahara." It sounds like a gently intoned prayer, wafting melodiously through the speakers until Abou-Khalil and the group's other voices join him one by one. Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and flugelhorn is a good choice and his sound adds additional depth to the band. His technique treats the music nicely, like the nimble fingered flair in "Tsarka" and elsewhere. The arrangements develop the compositions with patience, and there is much interplay with the percussionists, which is integral.

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