Between Dusk & Dawn by Rabih Abou-Khalil

One of Abou-Khalil’s earlier albums, Between Dusk and Dawn features stellar sidemen such as master percussionist Glen Velez and jazz saxophonist Charlie Mariano. In places it exhibits that ecstatic melding of jazz and Arabic music that was later perfected on Blue Camel. But in other places it gives us long patches of noodling and less-then-engaging playfulness.

An example of the former would be the first track, “Dusk.” At just over 14 minutes, more than half of this piece is devoted to a shapeless and tiresome prelude for percussion and oud (Arabic lute). An example of the latter is the aptly named “The Thing that Came out of the Swamp,” which features everything but the kitchen sink, including Glen Velez’s overtone singing, in a fantasy that sounds like Stravinsky crossed with Steve Reich. Yet there are solid, jazzy tracks like “Chess with Mal” which opens with a long but well-formed solo by Charlie Mariano before sax and oud synchronize for one of Abou-Khalil’s gloriously rhythmic tunes. Or “Dawn,” where Abou-Khalil plays one of his favorite tricks of making it sound as if the melody of the piece grows out of his initial improvisation. Despite the album’s lack of overall focus, it does offer a bounty for the ear, especially in the percussion. A disc for fans of one or more of the musicians involved. ~ Kurt Keefner, All Music Guide

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