An alphabet soup jumble of musicians, genres, and instruments that reads like a work of art.
Breathtakingly beautiful oriental, gaelic, and modern american influences are heard in this world music cd. the underlying and overarching themes are undoubtedly oriental, while a trace of minimalist is the undercurrent, all put together with sometimes lush orchestration, while at the same time never losing its identity. the first few notes of the first cut, also the title cut, made me do a double-take, making me check that i'd put the correct cd on. the first few seconds sounded decidedly japanese, with a soaring female voice. after the surprise beginning, the tune settled into a distinct middle eastern melody. abdoulaye diabaté, a malian dialy, or griot, uses his high tenor in spine-chilling vocals on this and other cuts. middle eastern nations spawned world famous poets and musicians long before columbus or the vikings landed on the shores of north america. the area was also the home of world-class mathematicians, builders, and engineers.i don't think anybody can pinpoint exactly when or where music originated, but it almost certainly did so in or very near this area of the world. every note, every chord, every genre of music we listen to today has its origins there. so why should it surprise so many westerners that beautiful, lush music can also rise from an area so many westerners see only as a land of sand, oil, and turmoil? that thought has changed substantially since world music began becoming more popular in the west about 30 years ago. the study and publication of treatises and books on the connections, tentative or solid, between middle eastern and african music and early american music by western blues music scholars have further broadened its acceptance. jamshied sharifi, despite the middle eastern sounding name and the music on this cd, was born, raised and educated in the united states. he was born in kansas, as middle american as one can get; he began classical piano training at age five, and by age 10 had added drums, guitar, and flute. he's a graduate of mit and of the berklee school of music; he was chosen outstanding jazz pianist at the 1983 collegiate jazz festival; he was director of the festival jazz ensemble for seven years. it was in 1991 that the ensemble, under sharifi's direction, was chosen the outstanding band at the notre dame festival. he's also worked in hollywood, scoring several films including harriet the spy and the thomas crown affair. sharifi is accompanied on the cd by paula cole, famous in her own right, and by sussan deyhim and yungchen lhamo, along with a multicultural host of others on a broad assortment of western and eastern instruments, as well as synthesizer. lhamo's voice is particularly well showcased on the first and final cuts, "requiem," which was written especially for "an echoes requiem for 9-11." "echoes" is a weekly syndicated program of ambient and new age music, and the program was broadcast shortly after the attack. this cd is a blend of instruments and voice, in a commingling that defies description at times. the instruments are a broad range from all parts of world; the mundane and ordinary such as sax and clarinet, to the exotic, including the oud, talking drum, kora, dumbek, bombo, bougadoubou, and caxixi. the different languages, the instruments, the synthesizer and the voices are all brought together in a texture and feeling as mellifluous and soft as your favorite cuddly blanket on a bitterly cold winter night. "my grandfather the tree" is also particularly memorable, an irish lament which starts with seamus egan on low whistle, so sad and lonesome you can smell the peat and hear the brogue; it also brings paula cole's tremendously under-appreciated voice to the fore. production and post-production are impeccable. with 11 tracks topping out at 50 minutes, this cd has something for every listener.