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The Astounding Eyes of Rita


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Music

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Photos

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Biography

The music of Souvenance, by turns graceful, hypnotic, and taut and starkly dramatic, was recorded in 2014 – six years after oud-master Anouar Brahem’s last ECM album, The Astounding Eyes of Rita. “It took a long time to write this music,” he acknowledges, noting that his emotional world had been usurped by the unfolding story of political upheaval sweeping first through ... Read more in Amazon's Anouar Brahem Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 6, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM Records
  • ASIN: B002FEUOB4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,229 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Lover Of Beirut
2. Dance With Waves
3. Stopover At Djibouti
4. The Astounding Eyes
5. Of Rita
6. Al Birwa
7. Galilee Mon Amour
8. Waking State
9. For No Apparent reason

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Another gorgeous, evocative musical journey from oud master Anouar Brahem who delivers an album of warm, dark sounds and
dancing, organic pulses. The music modulates between eastern and western cultures and disciplines yet the compositions are unmistakably Brahem s.

Review

(Brahem) creates music that floats in space, evocatively calling up
references to classical music, jazz, Arabic modes and the indefinable
beauties of spontaneous improvisation. --Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
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See all 26 customer reviews
I will enjoy this music always.
Richard L. Hulsebus
This is simply incredibly beautiful music.
Larry L. Looney
Gift for my husband, he's loving it!
Narelle Telford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on October 6, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This is simply incredibly beautiful music. Never mind the genre labels (it's ECM after all) - there are elements of jazz, Arabic music and classical chamber music contained here...but most of all, this is at its heart music from the human soul, and Anouar Brahem's most personal recording in several years...maybe ever. I say `personal' because on this recording you can hear Anouar voicing melodic lines along with his oud playing - not overbearing, not loud, not singing words...but quietly, gently, underscoring the deep source of these pieces. The original music is the voice, after all.

Anouar is accompanied here by three wonderful, sensitive performers - Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet), Björn Meyer (bass, from Nik Bärtsch's Ronin) and Khaled Yassine (darbouka, bender). The four players blend seamlessly into the musical streams that Brahem has composed for this release - they send forth sinuous lines that parallel one moment and intertwine in delicate harmony and counterpoint and rhythm the next. There's not a weak track in the lot - it's one of those discs I know I'll be playing multiple times at each sitting.

Stylistically, the music here falls somewhere between Brahem's last albums (such as the achingly lovely LE PAS DU CHAT NOIR (2002) and THIMAR (1998), with echoes of the more traditionally Arabic music of his early releases tossed into the mix. It's an incredible recording - a good place to start experiencing his work for those who have never heard him, and an essential addition to the collection of those who are already fans.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Until this album, the recordings of Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem have not interested me, mainly because of the typical subdued, almost minimal ECM sound. I prefer more lively oud taqasim and Western-like improvisations. In "The Astounding Eyes of Rita," Brahem is teamed with three other musicians (Blaus Gesing, Björn Meyer, and Khaled Yassine, playing bass clarinet, bass viol, and bendir and darbouka drums, and the mood is brighter. The rich interplay among the musicians is very fine. The result is an album of quiet beauty, yearning, and fond remembrance. There is a sweetness in this ensemble's music. The album can be compared to those with jazz Lebanese oudist Rabih Abou-Khalil, also produced by ECM's Manfred Eicher, but Brahem's music dances more lightly. A recasting of the classical Arab takht ensemble into a contemporary jazz group, this lovely and memorable album offers great listening for world music and jazz fan alike.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Levy on November 11, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Anouar Brahem has become one of ECM's all-time great recording artists. The Astounding Eyes of Rita continues his stream of wildly diverse releases, this time with a new ensemble that again melds European instruments and sensibility with North African traditional instruments and harmonic ideas.

On this album, there is a unique combination of lower-register instruments -- the oud, contrabass and bass clarinet together occupy a fairly narrow band and reinforce each other. There are more dynamic rhythmic ideas here than on Brahem's last two (superb) albums of Islamo-European art music; those records were slow, dreamy and impressionistic. The Astounding Eyes of Rita has a livelier pulse.

The album is also superbly recorded. One of Brahem's best!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Burns on December 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
One of the great joys of being Anouar Brahem fan is that you can always regard any upcoming album of his as a "must buy" no matter what instrumentalists he's collaborating with. If I knew his next album was a collaboration with a bagpipe player, a trombonist, and a beat-box player - I'd still buy it. Brahem is devoted to detailing a beautiful melody with precision and contemplation, and the players on his albums all use minimal instrumentation to maximum effect. Modulation is never taken for modulation's sake - which is not something that can be said for many, many jazz artists.

On "The Astounding Eyes of Rita", Brahem and his group continue developing a music firmly in between jazz and chamber music. Perhaps this album is a bit more jazz than chamber music - unlike the last two albums, but like "Thimar"... and yet, this album feels very different from "Thimar"Thimar in that it has an even stronger ensemble feel than that album. Let me just walk you through this beautiful album.

The opening track, "The Lover of Beirut," is a langorous track beginning and ending with what I can only describe as a chime on the guitar. The oud and clarinet play in unison, tracing out a typical Brahem Easternish melody with exquisite care. "Dance with Waves" is a short jazz track making good use of the bass player, and a perfect blend of the sanguine and the phlegmatic moods that characterize this album. "Stopover at Djibouti" is one of my favorite pieces. It's very light on its feet and its simple but quick tune is so sunny that it feels miles away from most everything on "Le Pas du Chat Noir".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on July 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My introduction to the music of Anouar Brahem came several years ago when I chanced to hear Astrakan Cafe. I liked and bought that as well as other Brahem recordings in the succeeding years. But I hadn't thought of him recently until I read several very positive reviews of The Astounding Eyes of Rita in the music press.
Like other Anouar Brahem recordings I own, this one is intensely relaxing. While it isn't the best Brahem recording I own, there are a few very good atmospheric pieces here. The best one in my opinion is definitely the title cut. But there are also a couple of others that rank with some of the best that Brahem has recorded. Those are The Lover of Beirut and Galilee Mon Amour.
As usual with ECM recordings, this CD comes very tastefully packaged and is accompanied by an attractive yet almost spartan booklet containing pictures, album info, and a poem by the late poet Mahmoud Darwish that quite possibly inspired the name of the album and to whom it is dedicated. Check this out, if you enjoy previous albums from Anouar Brahem you are almost certain to enjoy this as well.
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