Being familiar with early recordings from the Lebanon born, but Paris based trumpeter (his 3D trilogy so called: Diasporas-Diachronism-Diagnostics only) spanning between 2007 to 11. I was really all ears when I got these latest discs. Maalouf merges his inbred oriental heritage into jazz but also dialogues with cultures surrounding him. It makes him pretty unique and interesting to me and I enjoyed his earlier recordings a lot.
Those two are sharing some how philosophical concept as they are both dedicated to women. First to the greatest and most famous singer Arabic world ever had. Second to the women living today. Common human beings which are heroes who dare to protect life and sacrifice whatever it takes to protect values they are believing in. That is beautiful and unusual tribute.
From Oum to Kathoum
Oum Kalthoum was the same to the Oriental world as Maria Callas for example , to us western people, as I just learned. And that is a value itself. But certainly her heritage influenced not just a past generation, but also following one across all Arabic spoken word, and probably not only.
Whole tribute then takes one song, the more famous, perhaps: “ The Thousand and One Night”. It would be difficult to find anything sounding more Arabic like that. Then it had been stripped down to the core, around which he developed bran new jazzy, semi improvised tissue.
With top class American line up it became multicultural automatically. Larry Grenadier, Clarence Penn, Mark Turner and Frank Woeste are instrumentalists one can really rely on. Seven pieces suite is fascinating exercise for those who are living in well tempered world and certainly brings some Magic of the East to the listener. I could not recommend it more.
Red & Black Light
On contrary modern homage spins around fusion with pop and dance music. A different line up suits purpose very well. It’s easy going and catching up young people. It has all sort of influence from Oriental, through Balkan, to jazz like. As a result it is more world wide and even spiced a bit with rock like trance influence. Clearly written with an intention to reach as many as possible. I appreciate an idea that it became easy listening without sacrificing the quality. The best way to describe the intention will be quoting an Artist himself :
“… The women … have had (and still have today) immense influence on all my work in music. Especially due the considerable inspiration they give me through the way they cope with their daily lives and that on their entourage. Despite having lives like labyrinths. Complex and often dramatic, these women have inside them a strength and stability similar to a kind of unshakable trance. They give me the impression they never loose sight of what’s essential.”
I can say no more or any better. I can only agree.