Notes and Editorial Reviews
Awis. Bereshit Baha. Les Temps Primitifs. Tehilim 150. Tehilim. Adon Olam. Berosh Hachana. Hamadouchi. Neïla. Allawi.
Hinë Matov. Adir Hou
David El-Malek (ten sax, sop sax, tarija, shruti box, voc); Ali Alaoui (tbila, darboukha, riqq, def, bendir, sagattes, tarija, tassa, gallal); Ingrid Panquin (voc); Spyros Halaris (kanun); Thierry di Filippo (oud); Sabrina Mauchet, Anne Vanhems (vn); Mathilde Vrech (voc); Vladimir Tserabun (vc); Thibault Laurent (def, bendir, gallal, tarija); Jules Bikoko Bi Njami (db,
NAÏVE 62311 (61:38)
This somewhat out-there album, titled
Music from Source, Volume II,
is a splendid Middle Eastern-jazz fusion session in the same vein as Rabih Abou-Khalil’s wonderful albums. The extended and oft-irregular meters and older modes used here in a modern setting tend to be both hypnotic and challenging in turn. El-Malek, like many musicians nowadays, gives us zero information about himself in the liner notes, so I had to look him up online. He was born in Pantin, France, in 1970, raised in Israel until 1978, but suddenly his family moved back to France. He began playing tenor sax at the age of 20, studied briefly at the Academy of Montreuil, but apparently developed his jazz chops in solitary practice. (Trying to follow Google-translated French-English is a bit like reading Mark Twain’s “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” in French, so please bear with me if I misinterpreted any of this mangled language here.) In 1995 he was awarded third prize as soloist in the National Competition of La Défense and first prize for his group in the “Jazz of Vannes” competition. His 2002 CD,
Blowing Trio, Live at the Duc des Lombards,
won a Grand Prix du Disque in the jazz category. In addition to his excellent jazz work, El-Malek is also an avid fan of classical music transcribed for saxophone, including the works of Bach, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Webern, Bartók, Ibert, and Artaud. So now you know a bit more about him.
This disc engrosses you from start to finish. Even more so than Abou-Khalil, whose work I also love, this is much more fully integrated with jazz (and classical). El-Malek’s website informs us that he still goes off for months at a time to a woodshed and develop new musical ideas before returning to his band to play and possibly record them. There is no question that this is so: The kind of fully integrated musical ideas one hears here are so stunning that they can, really, only be compared to some of the greatest musical minds in jazz, people like Eddie Sauter, Charles Mingus, or Toshiko Akiyoshi. The brief
Les Temps Primitifs
is very much a classical piece, while the various movements of
blend virtually all of El-Malek’s sound world: an opening chant by vocalist Vrech that sounds Sephardic, a following section that begins with strings but then blends a Sephardic-sounding tune into it, eventually increasing the tempo, adding an Indian rhythm, playing variants on the chant just heard, then moving into improvisation, and a section that reminded me of ancient Greek music. It’s quite a musical trip—and, to my ears, more sophisticated and detailed than the interesting but somewhat pop-flavored
of Fazil Say. You cannot listen to this album and fail to be moved, stimulated and drawn in. Very highly recommended.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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