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CD Feature: /Adam Khan: "A Day in November"

img  Tobias

The title of this record may seem slightly ironic with regards to cover pictures of palms, people and places drenched in splendid sun light, but it has a much more subtle meaning to it. This year, Guitarist Adam Khan has already traveled from his home in England to Pakistan, released an album recorded in Buenos Aires and is about to embark on performances in the USA and Peru. Looking at it from this perspective, it is almost as if the name were to say: This globe trotter knows no seasons.

Then again, Khan is no tourist. Wherever he goes, he doesn’t only spend time, but breathes in the local colours and complexions, using his impressions to further his own interpretations. Especially a work like this one, which centres around pieces by Argentinian, Cuban and Tunisian composers needs living experience, not just picture postcard superficiality to succeed. What therefore makes the effort all the more credible is the fact that he is actually a scholar of Leo Brouwer, whose pieces make up a large chunk of the repertoire on the disc.First, however. the listener is treated to the “Cinco Preludios” by Maximo Diego Pujol. Incredibly composed before he had enjoyed fomal composition classes, they show the many different directions the classical guitar can take, while remaining strongly connected to its roots: Pujol embraces rock, folklore, the tango as well as dance songs and blends them together in short and irresistible tracks with strong melodic pull, a love for details and a mindblowing diversity. The bittersweet “Preludio Triston” conveys plentifold associations and emotions through a single, fluent motive, while the “Candombe en Mi” works with varying rhythmic patterns – highly imaginative composing as a conscious act of defiance towards a brutal regime. The three tracks by Roland Dyens, sandwiched in between more extensive portraits, are of equal melodic prowess, yet more closed in their stylistic outreach and constitute little miracles of timeless quality. The final 35 minutes then belong entirely to Brouwer, whose own compositions have been slightly overshadowed by his appointment as conductor of the Cordoba Symphony Orchestra. His voice, manifested here in 10 “etudes simples” and a collection of “popular Cuban tunes” is characterised by both traditional and avantgarde elements and the interweaving of melodic and rhythmic functionalities. The etudes are not just exercises, but little worlds in themselves (and anything but “simple”) and Brouwer is both apt at formulating his message in straight-forward miniatures and almost ten-minute long pieces stretching harmonic schemes to the max. Khan is always close to the core of the score, his sound human and never clinical and equipped with a true understanding of the genres alluded to.

Oh, and then there is the true meaning behind the title, of course, Brouwer’s piece by the same name acting as a centre to the album, a barely two-minute long autum mood with a touch of melancholia. Free of any pretentions or smart concepts, it is a big small statement which holds a disc of many directions but direct appeal together without any trace of irony.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Adam Khan
Homepage: Adam Khan at MySpace
Homepage: Dinmore Records

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