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Album Review

For many years, English has been the primary and dominant language of jazz singing, but that doesn't mean that vocal jazz necessarily has to be performed in English. In fact, meaningful vocal jazz has been performed in languages ranging from Portuguese (Flora Purim) to Swedish (Jeanette Lindström) to Polish (Grazyna Auguscik). If rock en español can be a huge phenomenon in the rock world and hip-hoppers in Paris can earn a living rapping in French, is there any reason why vocal jazz shouldn't be multilingual? There isn't, and on Bemun, the language that singer Cymin Samawatie (who calls her group Cyminology) uses to perform vocal jazz is Persian/Iranian — not exactly a language that an abundance of jazz singers have used to express themselves, but a language that works well for Samawatie on appealing post-bop items such as "Meloton," "Gosara," and "Bi Deldari" (all of which she either wrote or co-wrote). Some English-speaking jazz enthusiasts will no doubt pass on this 2006 recording because they don't understand Persian/Iranian, which is regrettable because Samawatie is undeniably expressive regardless of whether or not one understands the words she is singing (although Double Moon Records does provide English translations of the lyrics for those who want to read them). While some will describe this 58-minute CD as post-bop, others will call it world jazz because of the Persian/Iranian influence that Samawatie brings to the table — and truth be told, both terms are applicable. This fine album is happily recommended to anyone who is seeking something fresh and intriguing from vocal jazz.

Top Albums and Songs by Cyminology

Bemun, Cyminology
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