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Oriental Touch
Tres Morillas [7.40]
Ghaetta [5.02]
Ben Pode Santa Maria [4.37]
Quen Boa dona Querra [5.12]
B’tayhi-M’saddar [4.59]
Como poden per sas culpas [5.26]
Ostinato I [5.52]
Passacalli della vita [5.54]
Si dolce e’l tormento [6.06]
Djamila [5.44]
Ay! Linda Amiga [4.15]
Por que llorax blanca nina [5.17]
Cuando el Rey Nimrod [6.13]
Regina Kabis (soprano), Annette Maye (clarinet), Gurkan Balkan (oud, guitar), Jutta Haaf (harp, organ), Murat Coskun (percussion), Albrecht Haaf (flutes, shawm, organ, piano)
rec. Martinskirche Mullheim, Germany, 2013

This attractively-produced and well-executed disc purports to mix the worlds of mediaeval music, oriental music and jazz. It features two ensembles – the German early music ensemble Spielleyt and FisFüz – an “oriental jazz” trio, who join forces along with the percussionist Murat Coskun.

The works on the disc range from 13th-century Spanish songs and a 14th-century Italian Istanpitta, through a work by Monteverdi and Sephardic 16th century songs, to a traditional Arab-Andalusian song and two contemporary compositions - one by the clarinettist and musicologist Annette Maye and one by Murat Coskun. Around the traditional music weave jazz rhythms and harmonies, with oriental inflections.

Tres Morillas from 16th century Spain provides an atmospheric opening and introduces us to the disc’s concept, with a song from the Cancionero Musical de Palacio for voice and oud being juxtaposed with jazz clarinet, piano and percussion. One of the most appealing works on the disc is Como poden per sas culpas, a song from the 13th-century Spanish Cantigas de Santa Maria, with its strong rhythmic element beautifully brought out in this performance. The Passacalli della vita is quite bizarre but intriguing: an Italian song dating from 1657 but initially accompanied by jazz piano (before the more traditional oud takes over), it works surprisingly well. Of the two contemporary instrumental works, I felt that Djamla was the more atmospheric and attractive, in its very traditional and oriental style, with a wild and searingly beautiful and yearning central section.

In several of the songs, the jazz instruments take over from the early instruments and move us into an entirely different world with fairly unrelated-sounding material; and in these cases I feel that the clarinet’s line is too separate and different for this to fully work; the change is just too much of a culture shock. However, much of the time – and especially in the later songs, the jazz instruments play more closely-related material, and bring the clarinet more into the world of the other instruments (such as in Ay! Linda Amiga and Monteverdi’s Si dolce e’l tormento, wherein the separate jazzy episodes have more thematically-linked material and are thus more in keeping with what has gone before) – and these songs are more successful.

The booklet is good – striking, attractive and well-produced, with good notes and song texts; while full-page colour photographs add to the clean, smart and generous look. This disc is probably not one for the purists – in whose camp I usually fall – but I was enchanted by it and will certainly enjoy listening to it again.

Em Marshall-Luck



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