Archive for the ‘Jazz’ Category

Dhafer Youssef

Abu Nwas Rhapsody paints, perhaps, the broadest picture of Youssef of any single album to date, with its focus on a consistent lineup and the resultant chemistry. Without dismissing the inestimable strengths of Youssef’s playing, singing and composing, Abu Nawas Rhapsody’s greatest energy and strength comes from an ideal trio of collaborators, who turn it into his hottest session to date.

Track List:

  1. Aya (12:52)
  2. Interl’oud – Odd Elegy (12:45)
  3. Les Ondes Orientales (14:53)
  4. Khamsa (The Khamriyyat Of Abu Nawas) (08:36)

Duration : 49:06 | Bitarte : 320 kBit/s | Year : 2010 | Size : 99 mb

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Ralph Towner - Paolo Fresu - 2009 - Chiaroscuro

Since moving to Italy over a decade ago, guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner’s output as a leader has been woefully infrequent, with only two discs released this decade—2001’s Anthem and 2006’s Time Line, both on the label that’s been his home for over 35 years, ECM. It’s not that he hasn’t been busy; he continues to work and record regularly with Oregon, the group that he co-founded nearly 40 years ago, heard most recently on the Grammy Award-nominated 1000 Kilometers (Cam Jazz, 2007), and on From a Dream (Material, 2009), in a stellar guitar trio with Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan.

If his solo albums are too few and far between, even scarcer are Towner-led albums in collaboration with others—his last one over a decade ago, the sublime A Closer View (ECM, 1998), in duet with bassist Gary Peacock. All of which makes Chiaroscuro a cause for celebration. It’s always a good time for a new Towner record; but here, in duet with rising Italian trumpet star Paolo Fresu, Towner delivers a welcome set of largely original material—some new, some revisited—one standard and a couple of brief but compositionally focused in-the-moment creations.

As has been the case for the last 15 years, Towner focuses strictly on guitar, but this time adds baritone guitar to his arsenal of classical and 12-string acoustic guitars. The lower register instrument is featured on “Sacred Ground,” a majestic solo piece that, with a brief reprise in duet with Fresu, bookends three tunes demonstrative of Towner’s range. He’s covered Miles Davis/Bill Evans’ classic “Blue in Green” before, with vibraphonist Gary Burton on Slide Show (ECM, 1986); here it’s an even freer interpretation, as Towner (on classical guitar) liberally stretches and compresses time while Fresu’s muted trumpet is as spare as the late trumpet icon’s, but with a lithe playfulness that’s all his own.

Doubled Up” is a new Towner composition, his baritone guitar creating an even richer landscape. His distinctive voicings—and a unique ability to be both implicit and direct with time, accompaniment, and counterpoint—support and interact deeply with Fresu’s muted horn. The guitarist’s ability to alternate between upper and lower registers, with passing chords suggestive of greater movement, creates an orchestral breadth that’s deceptive and remarkable for an instrument with only six strings.

Zephyr,” first recorded with Oregon on Ecotopia (ECM, 1987), demonstrates how Towner can deconstruct music written as a solo vehicle into a multi-part arrangement, this time delegating the lyrical melody to Fresu, who sounds not unlike another trumpeter with whom the guitarist has collaborated, Kenny Wheeler on Old Friends, New Friends (ECM, 1979).

Towner’s distinctively pianistic 12-string guitar is rarely used these days, making the dark improvisations that close the disc, “Two Miniatures” and “Postlude,” all the more welcome. Towner may collaborate rarely, but his choices in partners have always been beyond astute, and with the intimate Chiaroscuro he introduces a new partner who, hopefully, will remain an active one on future recordings.

allaboutjazz.com

Paolo Fresu

Paolo Fresu (born February 10, 1961) is a trumpet and flugelhorn jazz player, as well as an arranger of music, and music composer. Fresu was born in Berchidda, Sardinia. He picked up the trumpet at the age of 11, and played in the band Bernardo de Muro in his home town Berchidda .  Fresu graduated from the Conservatory of Cagliari in 1984, in trumpet studies under Enzo Morandini, and attended the University of Musical and performing arts in Bologna

Fresu currently teaches at the Siena Jazz National Seminars, as well as jazz university courses in Terni, and is the director of Nuoro Jazz Seminars in Nuoro, Italy.

http://www.paolofresu.it/

Ralph Towner

Ralph Towner (b. Chehalis, Washington, March 1, 1940) is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and bandleader. He plays the twelve-string guitar, classical guitar, piano, synthesizer, percussion and trumpet.

http://www.ralphtowner.com/

Musicians:

  • Ralph Towner: classical, 12-string and baritone guitars;
  • Paolo Fresu: trumpet, flugelhorn.

Track List:

  1. Wistful Thinking (04:20)
  2. Punta Giara (06:21)
  3. Chiaroscuro (06:31)
  4. Sacred Place (04:13)
  5. Blue In Green (05:45)
  6. Doubled Up (04:56)
  7. Zephyr (07:29)
  8. Sacred Place (reprise) (01:59)
  9. Two Miniatures (02:39)
  10. Postlude (02:31)

Duration : 46:43 | Bitarte : 320 kBit/s | Year : 2009 | Size : 116 mb

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Dhafer Youssef & Wolfgang Muthspiel - 2007 - GLOW

Although it’s a dual-leader album, in which oud player Dhafer Youssef‘s performance is at least as important as that of guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, one of Glow’s chief causes for celebration is Muthspiel’s on-form presence. After releasing the shimmeringly beautiful Bright Side (Material Records, 2006)—a little-known masterpiece which may yet take its place alongside such jazz guitar iconographs as Johnny Smith’s Moonlight In Vermont (Roulette, 1953, reissued 2004) and Wes Montgomery’s Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960)—Muthspiel’s project with drummer Brian Blade, Friendly Travelers (Material Records, 2007), was a disappointment, interesting in conception but not entirely convincing in execution.

Glow finds Muthspiel back in immaculate form as both guitarist and producer (significantly, the Blade album was a co-production while the Youssef is solely produced by Muthspiel). The disc reunites the Tunisian oud player and Austrian guitarist after a gap of six years following Muthspiel’s playing and composing collaboration on Youssef’s Electric Sufi (Enja, 2001). The album, Youssef’s breakthrough, was a thrilling, perfectly realized collision of traditional Maghrebi music, European jazz and a lively slab of dirty, visceral rock.

Wolfgang Muthspiel Dhafer Youssef ظافر يوسف

Glow inhabits similar territory, but with a broader, and perhaps deeper, emotional range. In large part this is down to Youssef’s singing, which Muthspiel, as producer, has coaxed to new expressive peaks. At times Youssef’s voice achieves the ecstatic intensity of the late Pakistani qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, at others it suggests the winsome vulnerability of the late electric troubadour Jeff Buckley. He sounds by turns beatific and scary, caressing and chilling, alternating lustrous tenor passages with tortured, almost weeping, falsetto. It’s an extraordinary performance.

Extraordinary, too, is the instrumental content and, again, comparisons with Electric Sufi are pertinent. The earlier album was recorded by a nine-piece, the new one by a quintet. The smaller line-up retains a trumpeter, with Tom Harrell replacing Markus Stockhausen, but makes more of the interaction between Youssef and Muthspiel. Both have an exquisite gift for melody, and an understanding of the power of silence, and both place every note with precision. It’s a commonplace to say such and such a musician “makes every note count,” but Muthspiel, in particular, really does.

Glow uses electronic wizardry with a lighter touch than its predecessor, though textural post-production continues to be a feature of Muthspiel’s work. Alegre Correa replaces drummers Mino Cinelu and Will Calhoun, and works in intimate partnership with the young bassist Matthias Pichler (who debuted so brilliantly on Bright Side).

Some music has the ability to condense time, a smaller proportion stretches it. Glow, its every bar a micro-world of eventful creation, is amongst the latter.

allaboutjazz.com

Musicians:
Dhafer Youssef: voice, oud.
Wolfgang Muthspiel
: guitars, violin, programming.
Fender Rhodes
piano.
Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn.
Matthias Pichler: bass.
Alegre Correa
: drums, percussion.
Rebekka Bakken
: voice (9).

Track List:
1 – Mon Parfum (02:58)
2 – Babylon (06:00)
3 – Sand Dance (04:47)
4 – Mein Versprechen (06:55)
5 – Etude #3 (05:06)
6 – Lamento (03:31)
7 – Maya (05:10)
8 – Emmerich (05:34)
9 – Cosmology (06:01)
10 – Rhapsodie (03:34)

Duration: 49:36 | Bitrate: 320 kBit/s | Year: 2007 | Size: 118 mb

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Nguyen Le duos with Paolo Fresu, Dhafer Youssef - 2006 - Homescape

Where does jazz stop and world music start? The boundaries are getting more blurred by the minute. We’re all postmodernists now, and many musicians under fifty reflect a range of influences beyond those traditionally associated with their own core style. Some, like French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le, are so polyglot as to be practically beyond category.

Le started out down the cultural miscenegation road with his first band, the multi-ethnic Ultramarine, whose 1989 album, De, was named World Music Album of the Year by the radical French newspaper Liberation. He’s continued to mix it up ever since—prominent genre-benders he’s worked with include Miroslav Vitous, Trilok Gurtu, David Liebman, Paul McCandless, Peter Erskine and Mino Cinelu. In the late 1990s Le became increasingly interested in Maghrebi music, working with Algerian singers Safy Boutella and Cheb Mami, and in 1998 he brought Maghrebi and Vietnamese musicians together on the album Maghrebi & Friends.

None of this, however, can prepare you for the galaxy of sound sources on Homescape, a series of alternating duets with Sardinian trumpeter Paolo Fresu and Tunisian oud player Dhafer Youssef. Some of these sources are developed and explored, others are referred to only in passing, and they include—but aren’t limited to—post-Hendrix rock, Milesian harmon-mute free improv, Maghrebi trance music, Ellingtonia, ambient, a Papua New Guinea vocal choir (sampled and replayed backwards), Delta blues, Vietnamese folk tunes, flamenco, Iranian modes, a Sardinian choir, Australian aboriginal ritual music, French chanson, Gregorian chant, and Indonesian gamelan/gong music.

Guitars, trumpet/flugelhorn and oud aside, the music is generated by loops, samples and overdubs, and the entire heavily post-produced album was recorded and mixed in Le’s Paris apartment – since 2003, his friends and neighbours Fresu and Youssef have been dropping by to home-record. The duets with Fresu are typically in free-improv mode (the exception being Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn’s lovely “Chelsea Bridge”), while the Youssef duets tend to be song or structure-based.

In the main sunny and joyful, though not without some darker and more abrasive moments, the fifteen tracks—average length three minutes, a handful six or seven—resemble a series of round-the-world postcards sent by Le, who mixed and post-produced everything solo, to his collaborators. As a soundtrack to an evening communing with the big bamboo, the exotic and the very exotic drifting in and out of the mix, it’s rich, colourful and beguiling.

allaboutjazz.com

Nguyen Le duos with Paolo Fresu, Dhafer Youssef - 2006 - Homescape

Paolo Fresu (born February 10, 1961) is a trumpet and flugelhorn jazz player, as well as an arranger of music, and music composer. Fresu was born in Berchidda, Sardinia. He picked up the trumpet at the age of 11, and played in the band Bernardo de Muro in his home town Berchidda.[1] Fresu graduated from the Conservatory of Cagliari in 1984, in trumpet studies under Enzo Morandini, and attended the University of Musical and performing arts in Bologna.
http://www.paolofresu.it/

Nguyên Lê (b. Paris, France, 14 January 1959) is a French jazz musician and composer of Vietnamese ancestry. His main instrument is guitar, and he also plays electric bass guitar and guitar synthesizer.
He has released numerous albums, both as a leader and as a sideman. His 1996 album Tales from Viêt-Nam blends jazz and traditional Vietnamese music. Nguyên Lê has performed with Randy Brecker, Vince Mendoza, Eric Vloeimans, Carla Bley, Michel Portal, and Dhafer Youssef.
http://www.nguyen-le.com/

Dhafer Youssef (born 1967 in Teboulba, Tunisia) is a composer, vocalist, and oud player. He has been living and working in various European countries since 1990. During this time he had the opportunity to perform his music on stages in Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and other countries as well as his native Tunisia (where he started singing in the Islamic tradition  at age 5 ).
http://www.dhaferyoussef.com/

Nguyen Le – electric, acoustic, fretless, synthesizer, e-bow, Vietnamese guitars, computer programming & electronics.
Paolo Fresu – trumpet, fluegelhorn & electronics.
Dhafer Youssef – oud, vocals & electronics.

Track List:
1 –  Stranieri
(Paolo Fresu / Nguyên Lê) (06:00)
2 –  Byzance (Dhafer Youssef / Nguyên Lê) (04:25)
3 –  Muqqam (Dhafer Youssef) (02:44)
4 –  Mali Iwa (Nguyên Lê) (06:27)
5 –  Zafaran (Dhafer Youssef / Nguyen Le) (06:02)
6 –  Domus de Janas (Paolo Fresu / Nguyên Lê) (02:18)
7 – Kithara (Dhafer Youssef) (02:18)
8 –  Chelsea Bridge (Billy Strayhorn) (03:00)
9 –  Safina (Dhafer Youssef / Nguyên Lê) (03:27)
10 –  Des Pres (Paolo Fresu / Nguyên Lê) (02:19)
11 –  Thang Long (Nguyên Lê) (05:33)
12 –  Neon (Paolo Fresu / Nguyên Lê) (03:12)
13 –  Mangustao (Dominique Borker) (07:26)
14 –  Lacrima Christi (Paolo Fresu / Nguyên Lê) (03:14)
15 –  Beyti (Dhafer Youssef / Nguyên Lê) (02:53)

Duration : 61:19 | Bitarte : 320 kBit/s | Year : 2006 | Size : 144 mb

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Omara Portuondo - 2004 - Flor De Amor

Omara Portuondo Peláez (b. Havana, 29 October 1930) is a Cuban singer and dancer whose career has spanned over half a century. She was one of the original members of the Cuarteto d’Aida, and returned to perform with The Buena Vista Social Club ensemble.

Omara Portuondo

BBC Review:

Omara Portuondo made her solo debut for World Circuit in 2000, three years after her show-stealing cameo with Compay Segundo singing ‘Veinte Años’ on the block-busting Buena Vista Social Club album.
Her solo career actually dates back to 1959 and she’s done numerous records, but only World Circuit have given The ‘Buena Vista sista’ the red carpet treatment and lush settings she really deserves.

Buena Vista Social Club presents Omara Portuondo found her in the very capable hands of musical director Demetrio Muñiz and was a tough act to follow. This time around, World Circuit founder and producer Nick Gold has chosen to work with Muñiz again as well as Brazilian producer Alê Siquiera, known for his work with Carlinhos Brown and Caetano Veloso. Once more, the songs are mostly vintage pieces from the Great Cuban Songbook.

The closing ‘Casa Calor’ is a strangely stirring retro-futurist offering by Brown, which sounds almost like it might have fallen off the track-listing from last year’s wonderful joint album by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galbán. The former Los Zafiros guitarist maintains an uncharacteristically discreet presence on rhythm guitar throughout much of ‘Flor de Amor’, even though both ‘Hermosa Habana’ and ‘He venido a decirte’ (one of Omara’s finest vocals) were originally performed by Los Zafiros.

It’s the guitars and their relations that really shine, most notably in the solo by Brazilian player Swami Jr. on the upbeat ‘Mueve la cintura mulato’. There’s a touch of laoud from Barbaríto Torres, and plenty of subtle licks from Irakere’s electric guitarists Carlos Emilio and Jorge Chicoy.

Lastly, tres player Papi Oviedo, (who’s been an entertaining live sidekick for the singer in recent years) backs her alone, and very tastefully, on ‘Amorosa Guajira’. It’s a sharp contrast with the sweeping strings and cooing backing vocals that feature in most of the other lush arrangements, along with plenty of demurely noodling clarinet by Javier Zalba.

Though she’s capable of Shirley Bassey-style belters, the focus is on the more intimate aspect of Omara’s work, with danzones, boleros, and guajiras dominating the fourteen tracks.

Maybe it’s the lack of duets, the absence of the late great Rubén González, the material or its sequencing, but somehow, gorgeous as it is, ‘Flor de Amor’ isn’t quite as memorable as its predecessor. That said, this is still one of the finest Cuban albums you’ll hear this year.

Jack Smith (2004-03-25)

Track List:
1  –  Tabu (04:20)
2  –  Amor De Mis Amores (03:24)
3  –  Alma De Roca (03:35)
4  –  Mueve La Cintura Mulato (03:35)
5  –  Junto A Un Canaveral (03:30)
6  –  Hermosa Habana (03:48)
7  –  El Madrugador (03:33)
8  –  Amorosa Guajira (02:24)
9  –  Habanera Ven (03:28)
10 –  Si Llego A Besarte (03:19)
11 –  Flor De Amor (03:06)
12 –  Juramento (03:23)
13 –  He Venido A Decirte (03:49)
14 –  Casa Calor (04:08)

Duration : 49:22 | Bitarte : 320 kBit/s | Year : 2004 | Size : 115 mb

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