Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jon Balke - Siwan (ECM, 2009)

This album was conceived by pianist and composer Jon Balke as a collaboration of musicians from across the world, featuring Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui, trumpeter Jon Hassell, violinist Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche, zarb player Pedram Khavar Zamini, percussionist Helge Norbakken and the Baroque Soloists ensemble. The music is haunting and ethereal, at times quite melancholy when the singer's haunting voice takes flight. Balke's arrangements are beautiful and his aim for the album apparently was to re-imagine a time of multi-ethnic cooperation where mystics, scholars and musicians came together as one to collaborate. There's not much "jazz" per se until the very end when the musicians spin out a couple of lengthy ten minute plus improvisations that are the highlight of the album. Those two tracks, "Thulathyath" and "Toda Sciencia Trancendiendo" were the highlights of the album for me, the musicians spinning out elaborate combination of instruments and vocals that ended the music on a ecstatic and hypnotic note. Siwan -

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