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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Michaël Attias

By Phil Freeman
Published December 12, 2006

Clean Feed

This album was written in 1996, recorded in 1999 and released late last year to little fanfare. But the melodies are so timeless, rooted in ancient melodic structures as much as jazz, that it could have waited another decade to hit the streets and retained all its exhilarating power. Attias, who composed or co-wrote every track on Credo, gives his co-leaders (female trumpeter Reut Regev, only 18 when she began playing with the group, and violinist Sam Bardfeld in particular) as much solo space as he takes for himself, while bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Igal Foni keep the rhythm light and almost danceable. The opening title track is adapted from a credo Attias found in a French church and pocketed; the closing cut, “Berechit,” is based on the vocal melodies involved in singing the Torah (“Berechit,” meaning “in the beginning,” is the first word of the Old Testament). This music combines avant-garde jazz, Sephardic and other Hebrew melodies, and Middle Eastern rhythms and tonalities into a heady mix that will spin the listener’s head in circles.