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The Cactus of Knowledge

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Album Review

Rabih Abou-Khalil's ninth Enja release features one of his most expansive lineups to date — 12 pieces in all, including oud, brass, woodwinds, cello, and percussion. It's quite a departure from 1999's austere Yara. Here the tempos are bright, the unison lines darting and difficult, the improv heated, the tonal combinations ever-changing. Heavy-hitting jazzers dominate the band roster, including Dave Ballou and Eddie Allen on trumpets, Tom Varner on French horn, Dave Bargeron on euphonium, Antonio Hart on alto sax, and Ellery Eskelin on tenor sax. Gabriele Mirabassi's clarinet gives the music an almost klezmer-like sound at times (a tantalizing instance of Jewish-Arab reconciliation). The gorgeous booklet includes a prose poem by Gamal Ghitany (printed in English, French, and Arabic), as well as a series of campy band portraits and a full transcription of track number five, "Oum Saïd." Looking over the score, one gets some sense of the rhythmic complexity Abou-Khalil is dealing with (try counting in 6+5+5+3/16, for instance). ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

Biography

Born: August 17, 1957 in Beirut, Lebanon

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The musical traditions of the Arabic world are fused with jazz improvisation and European classical techniques by Lebanese-born oud player and composer Rabih Abou-Khalil. The CMJ New Music Report noted that Abou-Khalil has "consistently sought to create common ground between the Arab music mileau of his roots and the more global musical world of today." Down Beat praised Abou-Khalil's music as "a unique hybrid that successfully spans the world of traditional Arabic music and jazz." Although he learned...
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The Cactus of Knowledge, Rabih Abou-Khalil
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  • $10.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Classical
  • Released: Jul 27, 2001

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