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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Anouar Brahem
Published March 13, 2007

Le Voyage de Sahar
ECM 1915

When oud player Anouar Brahem invited accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier to record 2002’s exceptional Le pas du chat noir, the challenge of finding common ground between the instruments was not easy. Joined by pianist Francois Couturier, the trio pulled it off without a hitch. Four years later they return with another exquisite release, as striking as its predecessor. Despite playing instruments better known for their intense soloing qualities—if we are to look at champions like Simon Shaheen and Astor Piazzolla—Brahem and Matinier master delicacy and quietude here. Hearing his delicate fingers pluck the Arabic lute on the title track, with light flourishes by his accompanist, create an atmosphere of introspection. This entire voyage, in fact, explores an inner terrain, demonstrated by Brahem’s continued softness on “L’Aube” and Couturier’s haunting “Vague/E la nave va.” Near that latter song’s end, when all three musicians intertwine, the dance is that of true wizards.