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Yesterday in Music – Oct 20, 1957 – Happy Birthday – Anouar Brahem!

The second name on today’s list of jazz musician birthdays at All About Jazz was Anouar Brahem. The thing that caught my attention about Anouar was the instrument he was holding an Oud! Time out let;s first explore the Oud before finding out about Mr Brahem. From Wikipedia: Anouar Brahem 1

The Oud  is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Arabic, Hebrew/Jewish, Greek, Turkish, Byzantine, North African (Chaabi, Classical, and Andalusian),Somali and Middle Eastern music. Construction of the oud is similar to that of the lute.[2] The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack offrets and smaller neck. It is considered an ancestor of the guitar.[3] According to Farabi, the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson ofAdam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son’s bleached skeleton.[7] The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in SouthernMesopotamia (modern Nasiriyah city), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum.[8] The Turkic peoples had a similar instrument called the kopuz. This instrument was thought to have magical powers and was brought to wars and used in military bands. This is noted in the Göktürk monument inscriptions, the military band was later used by other Turkic state’s armies and later by Europeans.[9]According to musicologist Çinuçen Tanrıkorur today’s oud was derived from the kopuz by Turks near Central Asia and additional strings were added by them.[citation needed]   A plectrum called a risha is used to play the oud. Traditionally the risha were made of eagle feathers and tortoise or sea-turtle shell as well as cowhorn.[10]Cowhorn rishas are commercially available today. The horns are sliced into strips and shaped, then sanded. Modern picks are also made of cellulose plastic. Those who prefer cowhorn rishas to plastic say they make a different quality of sound Read More

Back to Anouar Brahem who was born on October 20, 1957  in Halfaouine in the Medina of Tunis is an oud player and composer. He is widely acclaimed as an innovator in his field.[1] Performing primarily for a jazz audience, he fuses Arab classical music, folk music and jazz and has been recording since at least 1991, after becoming prominent in his own country in the late 1980s.[2] Anouar was encouraged by his father, an engraver and printer, but also a music lover, Brahem began his studies of the oud, the lute of Arab world, at the age of 10 at the Tunis National Conservatory of Music, where his principal teacher was the oud master Ali Sriti.In the 1980s Brahem spent several years in Paris, returning to Tunisa in the late 80s he waswas appointed director of the Ensemble musical de la ville de Tunis, he toured in the USA and Canada and then signed with ECM Records[2] with whom he has recorded a series of critically acclaimed albums.[1][3] These include Thimar, recorded with saxophonist John Surman and bassist Dave Holland[4][5] Astrakan CaféThis morning I listened to Brahem’s 2000 release Astrakan Café which was very different and very good. Tonight I am listening for a few minutes to his 1998 release Thimar, which I intend to give a good listen tomorrow at work! Particularly after reading what the review of the album at All Music said….. Thimar

Thimar is a most impressive collaboration between Brahem, soprano saxophonist/bass clarinetist John Surman and double bassist Dave Holland which superbly fuses the traditions of jazz with those of Arab classical music, pushing the parameters of both while succumbing to the clichés of neither.

Here’s the Anouar Brahem Quartet playing The astounding eyes of Rita…. Oops it’s morning so Happy Belated Birthday, Mr Brahem!!