Artist: George Gruntz
Album: Noon in Tunisia
Release Date: 1967/2016
Audio Format:: FLAC (tracks) 24 bit, 88,2 kHz
Total Tracks: 4
Total Size: 750 MB
1-1. George Gruntz – Salhe (01:08)
1-2. George Gruntz – Maghreb Cantata (18:40)
1-3. George Gruntz – Buanuara / Fazani (12:12)
1-4. George Gruntz – Nemeit (05:54)
Renowned Swizz pianist/composer George Gruntz became entranced by the music of the North African Maghreb on his 1964 visit to Tunisia. Over the next few years he revisited the area, taking in the melodies, rhythms, and improvisational styles of a Bedouin music rooted in 1000 years of nomadic culture. With the intent of integrating this music with jazz, Gruntz assembled the crème of the Bedouin players and a top-flight group of like-minded jazz musicians.
Sahle, the divine demon who gave voice and song to the people of the desert, serves as a brief vocal introduction to the meat of the album, Gruntz’s six-movement Maghreb Contata. In the first movement, Tikhbar, the musicians get to know each other in this cohering group improvisation. The Ghitta is both a rhythm and a name for the African oboe, played here by the instrument’s leading exponent, Moktar Slama, with soprano and nay (bamboo flute) joining in on this passionate percussive mix. The Alaji rhythm features a duo between French violin great Jean-Luc Ponty and bassist Eberhard Weber. On the meditative pastoral Djerbi Salah El Mahdi improvises on the nay with impressive piano backing. The pulsating M’rabaa rhythm features outstanding oboe and soprano solos. The Contata continues with Buanuara (the man who carries the flower) with its intense climax of cross-rhythms and mixture of solo and group play, and Fazani, a Bedouin theme transformed into jazz riff as percussion and wind instruments pound out their impression of the Maghreb. Nemeit, the “Song of Loneliness”, combines North African song form and modern jazz harmonies as a fitting end to this amalgam of music fired in the heat and passion of North Africa.George Gruntz organized this studio recording as an opportunity for blending the worlds of jazz and Arabian music, though utilizing original music of his own. With Sahib Shihab (soprano sax, flute, and tambourine), violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, bassist Eberhard Weber, and drummer Daniel Humair, plus four Bedouin musicians playing traditional Arabian reed, string, and percussion instruments, Gruntz conceived the nearly 31-minute six-part “Maghreb Cantata” as the centerpiece of the date. The composer’s themes are essentially brief modal statements utilized as jumping-off points for the musicians’ improvisations. Bracketing the suite are two vocal numbers that incorporate the chanting of centuries-old Arab poems. Open-minded jazz fans will find this unusual session both intriguing and infectious. Issued by Saba and long out of print, this disc was finally reissued on CD by Universal in Japan, complete with the original liner notes and photos in a mini-LP format.