Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Aram of 2 Rivers: Live in Syria
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Pop
Bass player Jonas Hellborg is joined by Syrian artists for an exploration of both traditional and contemporary musical ideas. This virtuoso musician's improvisational approach to music is well anchored by percussion, ney (... more »
Bass player Jonas Hellborg is joined by Syrian artists for an exploration of both traditional and contemporary musical ideas. This virtuoso musician's improvisational approach to music is well anchored by percussion, ney (flute), and violin, all equally well played. The interplay is thoughtful and exciting, and the folk references are respected, but the musicians are not slavish. Although the group is not an established ensemble, the members all seem so in tune with each other that it's never evident that they are not a regular touring outfit. Add to that a technically excellent recording effort, with a wonderful room sound and high marks for engineering, and you have an experience that shows what both jazz and world music are supposed to be about: communication. --Louis Gibson
DELICIOUS EAST-WEST COCKTAIL
Archel | Sydney, Australia | 03/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Imaginative, earthy, seamless fusion of Arabic folk idioms and the organic, curious approach of improvisational jazz, with sprinkles of classical influences. Jonas Hellborg, the composer, bassist and leader of this unique ensemble is mostly known for his work with the 1980s reincarnation of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as numerous jazz rock fusion collaborations with guitarist Shawn Lane. This is the first of his works I've heard and I could not be more impressed with his musicianship, including his unique virtuosity on the bass. Hellborg plays the bass (in this case an acoustic bass guitar) like nobody I've heard. His abundance of technique is incredible, but even more incredible is his eloquent application, including his feel for the middle-eastern mood of the music. He is awe-inspiring without reducing things to little more than a chops exhibition. A most obvious characteristic of his playing is the particular way he uses the bass as a percussive and melodic instrument, both alternately and simultaneously. The understatedly complex and delicate percussive base is provided by two `Derbuka' (a type of hand drum) players, named Tarek Makas and Mhfouz al Hosaini, and a `Riqq' (a tambourine type instrument) player, named Nabil Khaiat. Moody and hypnotic middle-eastern melodies are provided by an electric violin player named Hadi Backdonas and a Ney (a wooden, end-blown instrument resembling a flute) player named Mased Sri al Deen. The Ney is a particularly refreshing addition, with its soothing, airy effect.These apparently seasoned Syrian players are so well integrated within Hellborg's vision you'd think they've been playing together for years, although this is apparently not the case.When I bought the album I was imagining something akin to John McLaughlin's Shakti concept, with alternative instrumentation. However, I soon realised the connection is fairly remote. For one, the differences between classical Indian (Shakti) and Syrian folk music become apparent very quickly. Furthermore, Hellborg's vision is far removed from the overtly mind-blowing, fiery virtuosity and intensity of Shakti as I know it.
Relative to Shakti, Hellborg's arrangements are strongly characterised by sparsity and clarity. The individual playing is also more subdued, subtler and more heavily reliant on nuances. The sonic effect is much softer, more soothing. The overall mood is much more laid back. Having said that, I suspect most people who enjoy Shakti for more than the superhuman exhibitions of virtuosity will enjoy this effort as well. On first listen the music seemed very constant, somewhat dynamically deficient, which was probably due to the timid nature of the compositions and the way they seamlessly flow into each other. So be prepared with some time and patience to discover the treasures beneath the surface.This is unique, very pure and quite beautiful music that could provide hours of pleasure to both casual and obsessive music fans, regardless of age or general stylistic inclination."
Aram of the Two Rivers
Archel | 06/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is yet another example of Jonas Hellborg's musical mastery. It has quite a different mood and pace from Hellborg's other works, but it is as complex and as beautiful as Hellborg's fans are accustomed to hearing. Accompanied by some of Syria's greatest musicians, this is a Hellborg CD not to be missed."