Archive for the ‘Dhafer Youssef’ Category

Malak by Dhafer Youssef

October 20, 2008

Tunesian-born Dhafer Youssef started singing in the Islamic tradition at age 5. His music is rooted in the Sufi tradition and other streams of mystical sounds but has always been wide open to other musical cultures including jazz. With his deeply affecting vocal style, a variable approach on the oud (the Arabic lute) and complex Arab-colored compositions, Dhafer Youssef is among today’s shooting stars in this crossover field.
His 1999 release Malak was an immediate success that cast its spell even over the critics (Stereoplay: CD of the month, Fono Forum: 5 stars). Swiss Peter Rüedi wrote: “In all registers, especially the high ones, this man is incredible. His expressivity blows away all possible reservations… He is a composer of distinction and great breadth of expression ranging from clinking dissonances to real hit tunes – simple but not kitschy, lyrical, expressive, intense and thoughtful.” – from Youssef’s website

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from AvaxHome

Electric Sufi by Dhafer Youssef

October 16, 2008

Tunisian-born oud performer/vocalist Dhafer Youssef attains a happy medium while integrating the oud (an Arabic lute instrument) with jazzy grooves and wide-ranging improvisational forums. On this outing, the artist crafts an appealing worldbeat/jazz scenario partly due to his nimble plucking and mood-evoking unison choruses with trumpeter Markus Stockhausen. There’s also a drum’n’bass element here, as the leader utilizes the talents of ex-Living Colour rhythmic aces Will Calhoun (drums) and Doug Wimbish (bass). Jazz guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel adds textural patterns to many of these pieces while embarking on a pleasant mainstream jazz-based solo passage on the piece entitled “Farha.” Youssef also displays a multi-octave vocal range on several tracks — as he renders wordless vocals that often conjure up notions of religiously inclined mantras. A good portion of this affair features lightly rumbling percussion vamps intertwined with North African modalities and alternating dialogue among the soloists. A nice effort that ages well upon repeated spins. ~ Glenn Astarita, All Music Guide

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from WeLoveMusic

Digital Prophecy by Dhafer Youssef

October 16, 2008

«Tunisia-born singer and oudist Dhafer Youssef should be recording for ECM. His albums have a similar spiritual, centered quality to the work appearing on that label, and his work on this album with some of Norway’s top jazz players points completely in that direction. He lives very much on the cutting edge, taking things even further than he did on 2001’s Electric Sufi. Where that album used electronica as the periphery of the music, here he brings it to the heart of the sound, integrating it seamlessly into his compositions, as on “Aya,” where a seemingly found sound becomes the heartbeat of the track. His collaborators, including trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær, offer him plenty of space, and that’s what the music needs — it’s as wide open as the Tunisian desert. He’s a good player of the oud, but his real weapon — apart from his sense of composition — is his voice, with a range that’s truly stunning, and never put to better use than on “Dawn Prayer,” where his high notes, seemingly impossible, stand as a revelation, with an aching melody that just stays in the brain. At the same time as Youssef pushes at the edges in his work, there’s a sense of the music still being very centered in North Africa. On the basis of this, Youssef is extending his cutting edge even further.» (AMG)

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from BabeBlogue

London Jazz Festival 2004 by Dhafer Youssef & Arve Henriksen

October 16, 2008
Dhafer Youssef’s music trains one eye on tradition and the other on how that tradition can live, even thrive, in the present. Along with fellow oudists Anouar Brahem and Rabih Abou-Khalil, he explores the interface between his native Tunisian music and that of Western improvised musics. He has increasingly woven contemporary elements including electronica, breakbeats and ambience around his distinctive vocals and oud playing on albums such as Electric Sufi and Digital Prophecy. This, together with a characteristic outspokenness, help to define tonight’s performance. Youssef sits at the centre of his group, the ancient, graceful shape of the oud seeming to glow against his black clothes as he tweaks the miniature mixing desk at his side. From time to time he directs a frank look at one of his colleagues, frequently accompanied by a great, big smile that betrays the genuine pleasure he takes in their performance. His voice ranges between a velvety, beseeching whisper and an impassioned, extended yell. In full flight Youssef’s singing achieves a fervent glossolalia, it’s candour perhaps even provoking some discomfort for a small minority of the audience.

As with last year’s Digital Prophecy, Youssef is accompanied by some of the cream of Norway’s recent generation of musicians. On one side sits Arve Henriksen who, apart from some lovely trumpet solos, intermittently sings angel-like throughout the evening. On Youssef’s other side sits the more retiring Eivind Aarset, his face mostly hidden behind a curtain of shoulder-length, blond hair as he bends over his guitar. Aarset plays a generally supporting role, sketching ambiences behind his colleagues’ playing, only occasionally delivering a trademark solo in either monsoon wind or abstract noise mode: when these coalesce out of the background, they’re a joy to experience. Rune Arnesen, illuminated in the semi-darkness by a laptop screen, flutters stealthy, percussive streams from brushed cymbals while Audun Erlien provides solid support on electric bass. The emotional outspokenness mentioned earlier is typified partway through the evening when Youssef dedicates Norwegian Girl, an Aarset composition, to the latter’s recently deceased mother. What follows is an affecting lament whose distinctive melody is delineated vocally by both Henriksen and Youssef. The group’s music ebbs, swells, flows and floods, but there’s a loping, forward motion in Youssef’s music when nothing particular happens, which achieves a feeling of luminous movement that’s sufficient in itself and more subtly eloquent even than his vocals.

Colin Buttimer
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from SkaFunkRastaPunk