A strikingly attractive "transcultural" project initiated by Tunisian oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem, who is both an innovator and a traditionalist in the deepest sense (he has been credited with "restoring the sovereignty of the oud" in Tunisian music). There is no glib fusion of traditions on Thimar but rather a coming together of three very distinctive musicians who sacrifice none of their individuality in the search for common ground. Arab classical music and jazz are the reference points here, but Anouar Brahem, John Surman and Dave Holland meet as improvisors not limited by genre definition.
For more than 25 years, Anouar Brahem has taken his oud all over far off lands. A melodic impressionist and a for ever inspired improvisor, the Tunisian musician has above all toppled the barriers which separate genres…
Innovative Tunisian oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem presents this highly-acclaimed album of typically Middle Eastern music, recorded in 1999 with a trio that had been his first priority for several years. The improvisational exchanges between Brahem, clarinettist Barbaros Erköse and percussionist Lassad Hosni are exceptionally fluid and the atmospheres they create here are by turns mysterious, hypnotic and dramatic.
The Tunisian oud genius has done it again. Anouar Brahem has issued only five records under his own name over the past decade, each more adventurous than the last, without compromising his original vision: for the music of his region to meet with the other music of Africa and Asia and create a delirious sound that is equal thirds past, present, and future, along the precipice of historical lineage.Astrakan Café, the follow-up to his brilliant Thimar, is a smaller-sounding recording that reaches farther into the deep crags of the Balkans. Despite the journeying these musicians do here, they never stray far from the takht, a small ensemble capable of improvising to the point of drunken ecstasy. Listening through Astrakan Café, you can hear the gypsy flamenco tied deeply to Indian ragas and even a kind of Eastern jazz.