02/07/2007

Rabih Abou-Khalil (with The Balanescu String Quartet) - Arabian Waltz (1996)

«Arabian Waltz is the pinnacle of Rabih Abou-Khalil's achievement as a composer and arranger. It is a sublime fusion of jazz, Middle Eastern traditional music, and Western classical. In addition to Abou-Khalil on oud (the Arabic lute), Michel Godard on the tuba and the serpent (the tuba's antique kinsman), and Nabil Khaiat on frame drums, the album also features the Balanescu String Quartet instead of the usual trumpet or sax. The presence of the Balanescu might seem to pose a dilemma for the composer: traditional Middle Eastern music uses no harmony but a string quartet is all about harmony. Abou-Khalil achieves a compromise by generally writing the string parts in unison (or in octaves), in effect using the quartet as a single voice, but also letting the quartet split up to play parts in unison with the other instruments or to provide ornamentation. Without surrendering jazziness at all, the presence of the strings makes possible a wondrous atmosphere, almost as if one is listening to the soundtrack of a classy movie set in Beirut or Damascus during the '40s. This feeling is greatest on "Dreams of a Dying City" with its brooding tuba and cello motifs and grave, repeated rhythms. "The Pain After" starts with an impressive tuba solo that turns into a long interlude for tuba and string quartet; sad, slow music that sounds like one of Beethoven's late quartets. Then Abou-Khalil finally enters on oud, bringing a sustained note of wistfulness. Fortunately, beside the darker numbers lie the propulsive drama of "Arabian Waltz" and the bobbing and weaving quirkiness of "Ornette Never Sleeps." Abou-Khalil is known for experimenting with the possibilities his guest musicians bring to his style. In this case, the guests have inspired the host to reach a new height and maybe even a new style. This recording suits every fan of world music, jazz, classical, or just good music.» (AMG)

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12 comments:

Sermo said...

Hi Radu, I absolutely agree with AMG (and you?), that this album is the pinnacle of Abou-Khalil's work. A beautiful symbol for the productivity of a hybrid Babel-world. Not only the oud-playing of the master himself and the brilliant dialogue with the Balanescu Quartet, but also the tuba playing of Godard is magnificent. Big recommendation for everyone who's coming by here!
Cheers to Radu for this! (And thanks for your comment on my blog, last week!)

Anonymous said...

I've long been looking for this album. Many thanks indeed.

DingoAnt said...

Fabulous music - really glad I checked this one out - thanks...

Anonymous said...

My friend, thanx for this one. I've never heard something like that for long time!!! And congratulations for your blog, it is now one of my favorites!

AVAN said...

This is absolutely marvellous! Thanks a lot.

Spring Day said...

Hello Radu, this is just to tell you that you have started an avalanche of Rabih Abou-Khalil posts! After you posted Arabian Waltz, four other albums of him have been made available:
http://tinyurl.com/2y694g (Bukra)
http://tinyurl.com/2234j8 (Blue Camel)
http://tinyurl.com/2kgus6 (Sultan's Picnic)
http://tinyurl.com/2ye8dw (Odd Times)
You see how influential and inspiring you are!

Anonymous said...

Un altro disco che non avevo più e che ritrovo grazie a te.
Thanks a lot, man.

odradek

Radu said...

Hi, rapatang,

I'm sorry but I had to remove your comment. I have nothing personal against you, but I don't love blogs that post full discographies, 'cause it's truly unfair to the artists. So, I won't support them here in Babe(b)logue.

Cheers,
Radu

joseph said...

Hey this link is dead :(

please fix it when you can thankyou

Radu said...

NEW LINK:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=LAL9JULK

Anonymous said...

Muy bueno el disco y felicidades por el blog. Gracias

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