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Master Musicians of Jajouka with Bachir Attar, "Live Volume 1"

This excellent live recording, their first album in eight years, documents a 2007 concert in Lisbon, Portugal, on the final night of a week-long tribute to Paul Bowles. Led by Bachir Attar, who has steered the group for over 25 years, the Master Musicians deliver a masterful performance of songs both old and new, including some that have never been released until now.

 

Jajouka

Although the sound of the Master Musicians has varied little throughout the years, this album presents their music like few have before. Clean and unadulterated by studio effects, the instruments are equally balanced in the mix and possess a fantastic tonal depth that makes their music more appealing-and mesmeric-than ever. The drums on "Joal Fibladijoal" are pummeling and insistent though brief, while the Musicians reach for ecstatic communion on "Boujeloud Dancing with Kandisha." A melodic flute with backing drones encompasses the first half of "Double Medahey" before various drums and rhythms make the hypnosis complete. If the album has a centerpiece, it would be the 19-minute epic "Allah Allah Habibi Galouja," one of the few songs here to feature singing as well as bowed and plucked instruments alongside the usual flutes and drums.

Such a splendid performance coupled with superb recording quality makes this an exceptional album. A fitting tribute to Bowles, Live Volume 1 is also the debut release on a new label owned and operated by the Master Musicians themselves, hopefully the first of many more to come.

 

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Review of the Day

Pedal
cover imageThis duo of the classically and modern compositionally inclined Simon James Phillips and The Necks' less formal but equally brilliant Chris Abrahams have created quite an intriguing collection of improvisations. Every piece is a piano duet and the album crosses a wide spread of styles and quality; moving from cold, modernist works to pieces with a bit more swing and heat to them, Pedal are inconsistent in ways that both help and hinder their music. While there are a couple of less than stellar moments on this self-titled album, they are more than counterbalanced by the mesmerising and evocative pieces that make up the bulk of the music.
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