Rabih Abou-Khalil, Yara (CD, 55:46); Enja ENJ-9360 2, 1998 Enja Records P.O. Box 19 03 33 D-80603 Munich, Germany Cyberhome: www.enjarecords.com The oud is a Middle Eastern stringed instrument resembling a lute, and it sounds like a very midrangey, percussive guitar. Rabih Abou-Khalil of Lebanon is a virtuoso on the instrument, and on Yara he combines it with Dominique Pifarely's violin, Vincent Courtois's cello, and Nabil Khaiat's frame drums to create an austere ensemble sound - an organic, non-contrived fusion, if you will, of Eastern and Western elements. Abou-Khalil wrote this music for a film of the same name by director Yilmaz Arslan. In the liner notes, essayist Harry Lachner writes, "What is so often lacking in film music is simply its own artistic profile." Abou-Khalil's soundtrack certainly does not fall into this category; it stands strongly on its own. Most of the compositions feature involved melodies played in unison by oud, violin, and cello, with subtle frame drum propelling the music forward. The metric twists and turns of "On A Bus" are thrilling; likewise other fast-paced selections such as "Imminent Journey" and "Through The Window." It is on these tracks that Abou-Khalil displays his technical chops on the oud. The album also has its slow, hypnotic side: the singable melody of "Requiem," the sparse aura of "A Gracious Man," and the mournful quality of "A Grateful Parting." In terms of sheer beauty, nothing matches the main melody of "Puppet Master." Instrumental combinations are also varied at points in the program, adding unexpected dimensions. "The Passage of Life" begins as an unaccompanied oud solo, with frame drum joining halfway through. The other strings are absent on the track. The same is true of "Bint El Bahr," which also features some additional, tambourine-like percussion. Cello and violin take center stage on "The End of Faith," with oud and drum sitting out for a change. Yara was released by Enja, known primarily as a jazz label. The disc is therefore filed under "jazz" at record stores. Abou-Khalil has recorded with jazz musicians before, so the association makes sense. While this record isn't jazz at all, it represents Abou-Khalil's, and Enja's, commitment to blurring categories and giving audiences something they've never heard before. ~David R. Adler
To purchase this recording and get more info, soundclips, etc.
CLICK ON ARTIST'S NAME ABOVE
OR . . .
Please visit my BUY IT E.E.R. NOW INDEX PAGE
go to my LINKS page and find the vendors' section.