Monday, May 2, 2011

Duo Jalal Explores the Convergence of Indigenous Mid-Eastern, Modern Compositional and Improvisational Approaches on "A Different World"

We of course live today in a global village. We take as a matter of course that musical traditions that centuries ago would reach our shores solely in the form of immigrants now can be studied in depth via recordings and live concerts by world-class practitioners from every corner of the globe. We may only be on the edge of what this could mean for music in the world at large, but it is an exciting time for those who wish to reach out and explore what humanity has accomplished with their "second voice" in the widest sense.

Duo Jalal serves as a fine example of what we are seeing (hearing). It consists of violist Kathryn Lockwood and percussionist Yousif Sheronik. A Different World (Innova 793) devotes an entire CD to pieces that span traditional and compositional realms. Kathryn Lockwood combines classical technique, a ravishing tone, and a most definite feel for the mideastern musical mode. Yousif Sheronik adds his mastery of traditional mideastern and south Asian hand drumming (frame drum, tumbek, etc.). They tackle pieces that range from the more formal minimalism of Philip Glass to melodic frameworks that give room for improvisation within their form (such as David Krakauer's "Klezmer a la Bechet"), to the more through-composed modern post-classicism of Kenji Bunch.

Both artists show excellence in stylistic grasp and nuanced execution. Duo Jalal breathes a freshet of new wind into the sails of a form of music that goes back countless centuries. The composers represented do the same on their end.

A Different World, that. It is our world today. The maps we see have hard and fast borders. The music we hear transcends those borders, sometimes. Duo Jalal does just that with a very memorable album. Very much recommended.

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