The Lost Place
Mimouna Records

"River Path"
This album is a confluence of styles. Starting from the Middle East, the tunes venture towards jazz and then the concert hall.At the center is Yazid Fentazi on oud. He starts "River Path" alone, joined quickly by hand-drums. The violin of Frank Biddulph comes next, calm at first, then erupting into raucous whoops, joined by Rachel Bartlett on tenor sax, shouting in the style of Johnny Griffin. "The Lost Place" sounds like a dance hall. As Fentazi plucks a nervous 6/8, piano and fiddle sparkle with elegance. Bartlett, now on alto sax, trills sweetly to the sky; the feeling is sad, but remains optimistic.

That leads us to "Hope." Fentazi snaps the strings with fervor. His colleagues step in, in a polite dance Bartlett and Biddulph trade phrases while immersed in percussion. "Baba Salem" is nothing but rhythm Fentazi blows an earthy whistle, surrounding himself with drums. It is the sound of the marketplace and the music is worth buying.

"Fantouma" starts as a jazz ballad Bartlett is alone, blowing softly with a gentle rasp. Fentazi answers, his oud in the role of guitar. Romance blooms on this one, helped by Yue-Meng Chan and her lively piano. "Sexy Derbuka" slithers in steamy progression as Fentazi starts the theme and Biddulph plucks an octave higher. Its tension builds, like a scene from a movie Biddulph on a broad glissando, Bartlett with high shouts. The pattern is repeated many times, in many variations; it's pretty, though a bit long. The whistle returns on "Gnawi Nights," joined by a funky bass. The oud is more forceful than before; a few notes from Biddulph and the tune seems to sing. He's got a slick tone, like Stephane Grappelli, and in the background everything goes wild. Like much of the album itself, this gives you the sound of two (or more?) worlds. - John Barrett

Audio "River Path" composed by Yazid Fentazi (c)&(p)2000 Fantazia
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