Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Jon Balke & Amina Alaoui - Siwan
On the surface `Sivan' on the ECM label is quite a dark affair, but scratch below the surface and you will find joyous melodies to brighten up your day. OK, I wouldn't go that far. This is a very sobering experience which needs your full attention, and that means listening to it more than once to be able to fully judge. Music should never be that obvious. And some of the best music needs a bit of work on the listeners part, otherwise we'd all be listening to The Kooks or something worse (if that's possible).
Arranged by Norwegian jazz pianist and composer Jon Balke, the sound of the violin - or several of them, dominates proceedings, with trumpet from Jon Hassell, cello, double bass, harpsichord, percussion and topped off with enticing vocals by the Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui. It moves along at a predominately slow pace and like most artist albums nowadays, goes on a tad too long.
Essentially the album is what will be lumped in with "world jazz", taking in influences from the Arab world as well as the Balkans and other European regions.
Here is an audio youtube clip of `Ya Safwati', taken from `Siwan'