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Oran Etkin

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Reseña de álbum

Israeli Oran Etkin is clearly influenced by various cultures of the African diaspora and the jazz born in the Americas that stemmed from those cultures. Playing tenor sax, alto clarinet, and most notably bass clarinet, Etkin assembled different combos of musicians from around the world to play music that combines elements creating a new music that simmers with subtle rhythms and muted melodies that do not overwhelm or nullify each other, but work beautifully in balanced symmetry. The flattened wooden balafon sound of Balla Kouyate, vocals of Makane Kouyate and Abdoulaye Diabaté, guitar of Lionel Loueke, and bass of Joe Sanders or John Benítez surround and embrace Etkin's ideas with a loving multicultural touch rarely found in more focused ethnic fusions. Traditional elements are updated and expanded, while soul is reaffirmed in bluesy but non-urban means. On the jazz side, Etkin presents a tribute to Steve Lacy, as "Lacy" is a diffuse piece with harmonically overblown but delicate clarinet with balafon and guitar, "Nina" is Etkin's tribute to the style of Stan Getz in a circular motion with his bass clarinet, and a most unusual treatment of Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing" is done in a hip groove with shifting meters, mostly in 6/8 and containing good solo content from Etkin's clarinet. Coming from the Mandingo tradition, "Yekeke" sports that happy, bouncy dance quality so typical of African celebratory music, while the talking drum played by Joh Camara jumps out on "Not a Waltz" in a 9/8 rhythm derived from Mali and the kore juga, while the mixed ethnic love song "Kelenia" stems from the Bamanan sect, translated into shouted-out vocal choruses and playfully overdubbed clarinets. "Brink" is a purposely off-kilter Afro-blues two-beat tune with Etkin on tenor sax, the 6/8 light dance griot story "Damonzon" is about a king with one eye, and the strings of violinist Sara Caswell and cellist Jessie Marino offer heavy contrast in vastly different octaves with the bass clarinet and balafon during "New Dwelling." It might surprise listeners to realize that Etkin was heavily influenced by the music of Louis Armstrong as a youngster yet somehow arrived at this delightful mixing and matching of music at the cultural crossroads. It is not at all unfeasible that Kelenia is endorsed by no less a world music pioneer than Yusef Lateef. This recording is excellent through and through, comes highly recommended, and sets a new standard for world music in the decade of the 2000s. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

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Kelenia, Oran Etkin
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