Aug 22 2016
Well, this album is as gorgeous as it is unconventional. The Arabic vocals of Alya Al-Sultani shine a light on anything resembling a melody and transforms it into a beacon, drawing everything to it. The rhythmic interplay her patterns incite with pianist Clemens Christian Poetzsch are no less riveting than their melodic pairings. And on the subject of melodies, each time Shirley Smart enters the song on her cello, whether as accompaniment or as soloist, the music takes off soaring with a sweeping grandeur. The trio Sawa locks into a meeting point between modern jazz piano, Iraqi folk music and chamber, and it’s about as compelling anything out there.
The swirling melody of “Chai Chai Alay” is meant to hypnotize, while its counterpart on “Win Ya Galob” is the enveloping fold of nighttime, comforting and cool with its embrace. Poetzsch utilizes a fluid piano on this session, and the microtonal instrument’s ability to shift out of a Western-style tuning on the fly is what allows the rustic charm of “Kalimat” to exist in the same breath as the dynamic “Bahlam Beek,” with its spry cadence and a motion meant for dance.
Just a fascinating album.
Your album personnel: Alya Al-Sultani (vocals), Clemens Christian Poetzsch (piano, fluid piano) and Shirley Smart (cello).
Released on Two Rivers Records.
Listen to more of the album at the label’s Bandcamp page.
Available at: Bandcamp