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CD Feature/ Michel Sajrawy: "Yathrib"

img  Tobias

I just listened to Michel Sajrawy’s album “Yathrib”. I listened to it once, then again. And again. Not that it was necessary to clear some doubts, no, not at all. It just left me speechless. And that is a condition I usually am not subjected to. Ask the people who know me. But Michel Sajrawy and band taught me a lesson here. They taught me this lesson with music I didn’t hear for a while, if ever. Let’s not talk simply about the absolute perfection the instruments are mastered with. Let’s not talk about the accuracy and virtuosity of the playing. No, let’s not even talk about the masterful arrangement, which connects traditional music of the Arabic world with modern jazz and transforms it to one new and unique style.

Let’s talk about the soul, the feelings, the emotions, that this music transports seemingly with so much ease and weightlessness. Saying this, I dare argue I touch the deepest meaning, the core of what this artistical expression is all about. Correct me if I’m wrong, Michel.
But before going on with this subject – it should be mentioned at the end of any review and so I will stop myself here from getting carried away – let me get to some other important observations.
Let’s start with the obvious. To do that, I will throw some well-known names around. Santana and Latin music, as far as rhythms are concerned, especially on the title track. Zappa, pioneer of elaborate sound carpets, on – quite true – ‘Flying Carpet’. Andres Segovia, classical Spanish guitar virtuose, could have served as an example on ‘Al-Ein’. Overall, Jan Akkerman came to my mind as one of the masters of the jazz guitar. And Mark Knopfler just for the absolute clarity and ease he handles the electric guitar with.
And then, I have to name Michel Sajrawy himself. He blended all these influences, and I bet there are many other ones I couldn’t think of, in his masterful compositions. He is an expert on his guitar, technically speaking, but saying that would not nearly be enough. His abilities on his instrument are serving one single purpose: To transport meaning and content, emotions and feelings into the heart of the listener. Sometimes one doesn’t need words, because some deeply hidden strings are touched and start to resonate, thus making feelings clear that sometimes can not be described with words…

What makes this album all the more unique is the political background it originated from. Michel Sajrawy was born in Nazareth, Israel, as a Christian Arab with an Israeli passport. I can only imagine how the political and religious background influenced his entire life. Having this in mind his album “Yathrib” is a living example on how barriers can be overcome.
I sure am no politician, far from that, but I know that all things start in the deepest inside of human beings. In an area, so deeply hidden, that we call it soul. Michel Sajrawy’s album has just that enormous ability, to touch souls. It sure touched mine.

By Fred Wheeler

Homepage: Ozella Music
Homepage: Michel Sajrawy

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