For all its irritations and annoyances in this crazy, nascently-weaponized world of social media, YouTube remains an absolutely astonishing resource. From Pandora I recently first heard Tunisian oud-ist (if that’s not a word, I think I should make it one) Dhafer Youssef, and was captivated by his sense of mood on his Ascetic Journey. Today, simply on a lark, I thought I’d chase a link or two of his, on YouTube, and see where it led.
(cue sound of jaw dropping)
Holy smackers, Batman, get a load of this guy! Let it never be said that cross-genre innovation and muttery is dead or even mildly unhealthy. Wow!
First, check out Dhafer Youssef the vocalist, fully as impressive there as he is with the oud heroics, in “Delightfully Odd“:
Aside from that marvelous voice, the ensemble strikes me a whole lot like the small groups of Israeli bass wizard Avishai Cohen and fellow Tunisian Anouar Brahem–which is to say, for me at least, gloriously alive, engaging, and unapologetically athwart easy categorization. A great group, captivating music, exquisite sound…and Youssef himself is infectiously engaging.
Next, I ran across “Winds and Shadows”, which…oh hell, just watch it:
Magnificent. What a marvelous blend of traditions!
And as I hear more, I’m becoming even more impressed by his touch and dynamics, to achieve simply massive amounts of space within these pieces and groups. Check out this trio, with the same Norwegian guitarist from the Winds and Shadows clip, along with trumpet and flugelhorn, in this medley:
Man…now I’m a huge fan of Miles’ interpretation of Aranjuez on the Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain–“huge” as in, I hold up Miles’ absolutely heart-stopping “the softer you play it, the stronger it gets” solo in that piece as one of the finest musical moments I have ever heard, anywhere–and with that context for where the bar is set, I really like this arrangement and delivery.
So, I needed the bookmarks, if just for me! 🙂