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Jon Balke, Amina AlaouiAudio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Price: $13.57 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 11 Songs, 2009 $11.49  
Audio CD, 2009 $13.57  

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. TuchiaJohn Hassell 4:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Ya AndalucinJohn Hassell 2:25$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. JadwaJohn Hassell 5:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Ya Safwa TiJohn Hassell 5:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Ondas Do Mar De VigoJohn Hassell 4:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. ItimadJohn Hassell 6:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. A La DinaJohn Hassell 3:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. ZahoriJohn Hassell 4:57$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Ayshyin RaquinJohn Hassell 4:16$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. ThulathyathJohn Hassell10:05$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Toda Sciencia TrancendiendoJohn Hassell12:24$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Siwan + Arco Iris + Gharnati, En Concert
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 30, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM Records
  • ASIN: B001PS0EKW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,432 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album July 1, 2009
Format:MP3 Music
Jon Balke does it again with another great album. This one isn't as overtly 'modern' as say Divergent Travels, but it is certainly 'new,' in the sense that it is blend of various traditional music genres with a bit of an electronica twist. If you are looking for something with electronica beats though, I suggest checking out Terje Rypdal's Vossabrygg. The percussion on this latest Balke almbum is pounding and flashy but it leans toward an acoustic feel. If your contemplating getting the mp3 version, I'd like to point out that the linear notes for this record contain full translations of each song and a short essay with pictures on the project and its intention. For some this may not really be worth the extra money and the lack of instant gratification but at least you can feel confident that having a hard copy of CD has a small perk.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
A wise man once said "cross-cultural pollination is the life blood of music". He could have had Jon Balke's "Siwan" featuring the remarkable Moroccan vocalist Amina Alaoui in mind.

The ensemble includes Norwegian Jon Balke who conceived the project and arranged the music, Amina Alaoui who sings poetic texts in Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese from the Al-Andalus period of Muslim Iberia (730 to 1492), John Hassell (trumpet, electronics)lives for this kind of cross-cultural synthesis, and 12 baroque soloists (Bjarte Eike's Barokksolistene) with strings and lute and harpsichord. The most soul stirring sounds come from the artists newest to me: Algerian violinist Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche and Amina Alaoui.

I'm fascinated by Amina. She is a virtuoso singer and musicologist. Born in Fez, she was originally schooled in the Moroccan Gharnati tradition. Gharnati derives from Al-Andalus, where it spread from Granada to North Africa. Amina continues to research connections between flamenco, fado and the music of Al-Andalus. On Siwan much of the music was originally composed to Spanish translations of the poetry. Alaoui then helped to reshape the material around original Arabic versions.

The inspiration for this project stemmed from Balke observing similiarities between two beautiful traditions represented by the voice of Amina Alaoui and early music, as explored by Bjarte Eiike's Barokksolistene. But it goes deeper.

Excerpting from the cd liner notes and ECM's website:

"The title Siwan means in balance, or equilibrium, in a mixed language called Aljamiado, spoken under the Inquisition in Spain.

This is a fascinating blend of Arabic and European music and poetry, which is very poorly documented in European music history.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimations of a lost world March 13, 2011
Format:Audio CD
Siwan is a tantalising ECM project emerging from an eclectic literary and musical constellation. Amina Alaoui is a formidable scholar and artist, and one of the most gifted interpreters of the Gharnati tradition: the songs that survived at the Granada court, the last holdout against the Reconquista, and have survived centuries through oral transmission. Jon Balke is a Norwegian composer and jazz/folk/fusion pianist who won fame with his Magnetic North Orchestra. It is Balke who composed the music for the Siwan album, with Alaoui stepping in for poem adaptation and melodic co-composition. Jon Hassell is an American experimental trumpetist. Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche is an Algerian violinist and long-time accompanist of Amina Alaoui. They are backed up by a full-fledged baroque ensemble led by Bjarte Eike. Moorish and Iberian poets from the turbulent 11th and 12th centuries offer the literary raw material for Alaoui's songs. There are two excursions to 16th century Spain with Lope de Vega and St John of the Cross, the mystic who established the order of the barefoot Carmelites.

The journey starts with a purely instrumental invocation led by Kheir Eddine's mysterious violin. The following, short song 'O Andalusin' connects most poignantly. Richly harmonised it opens a vast and colourful panorama on a world that was on the verge of disappearing. Alaoui's voice is powerful and strikingly husky. The unfolding music is generally in a slow tempo, mournful (Ondas do mar de Vigo), longing or pensive (Ashiyin Raïqin) in tone, with discrete ostinato percussion sometimes lending an air of inevitability (Itimad). There are more lively intermezzos too with songs that sound strikingly contemporary (Jadwa, A la dina dana). Alaoui switches from Arabic to Spanish and Portuguese with admirable facility.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Norwegian-Andalusian Sufi Trance Music October 7, 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Siwan is what you get when you mix a Norwegian pianist (Jon Balke), an early music ensemble (Barokksolistene), a Moroccan singer (Amina Alaoui), an Iranian percussionist (Pedram Khavar Zamini), and an American jazz trumpeter (John Hassell), working with medieval Arabic, Portuguese, and Spanish texts -- often mystical. Beyond this, Siwan is nearly indescribable. At first listen, many of the pieces sound traditional, but they are all new compositions of Jon Balke, working closely with Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui. Siwan is unique and fits into no existing musical genre -- it transcends in many ways.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Siwan: In Equilibrium December 1, 2010
Format:Audio CD
In Autumn 2006, or so the album pamphlet tells me, Jon Balke invited singer and musicologist Amina Alaoui, the incomparable Jon Hassel (why don't any of these Jons have an H in their name?) and many other wonderful musicians to create "a pure sound fantasy".

The premise can you make you nervous, yes- so many times fusion ideas end up as some inedible "New-Age" yawn, without the many styles and sounds connecting together into something of value.

But the result is NOTHING of the sort- it's a unique blend of European Classical, Modern percussion, and ancient Andalusian music (which in itself is a fascinating blend of European and Arabic influences)- a sound that is amazingly rich, ethereal, mystical and strange, all laced with Amina Alaoui's archaic-sounding vocals, and all under ECM's excellent production.

As if drawn from the cold depths of time, Siwan has the echoes of music that historically never was, but could have been. Just imagine it. Better yet- Listen to the sound samples!

Highly recommended, an absolutely stunning and powerful album. Anyone who enjoys Classical, Arabic or Andalusian music, or anything in between, should try it for size.

Also recommended, in a similair vain: Rolf Lislevand's Nuove musiche.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars music to meditate by
I heard a selection being plaid on our classical station and I was hooked and I had to have it.
Published 7 months ago by juan m rodriguez
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly satisfying spiritually
This is the most powerful recording I have ever experienced. These compositions express--how else can one describe it--the soul of the Universe, of God, if you will. Read more
Published 9 months ago by C. Hitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply awesome!
Jon Balke (or is it Amina Alaoui? Can't quite remember) states in the booklet that this was not a musicological research, but rather a tribute to musical freedom. Read more
Published on September 21, 2010 by fnicknich
4.0 out of 5 stars An attractive combination of Arab vocalist, Baroque players and jazz...
Jon Balke is primarily a keyboardist, but on the 2009 album SIWAN he steps back from his customary role to conduct a rather usual ensemble: European jazz players, a Baroque... Read more
Published on May 15, 2010 by Christopher Culver
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Blend of Old and New
Wonderful mixing of the ancient and contemporary. Be prepared for an almost mystic CD. The vocals, use of trumpet and minimal percussion weave a sepia-toned mood that quickly draws... Read more
Published on February 17, 2010 by D. Hixson
3.0 out of 5 stars entré donde no supe, y me quedé no sabiendo...
toda ciencia, trascendiendo. That tune is, hands down, the best. It examplifies what the record is about: a blend of genres by norwegian Jon Balke. Read more
Published on November 8, 2009 by carlos
4.0 out of 5 stars Exotic, and relaxing
I love this music and enjoy explaining the roots of the music and the words. It takes me to other places, and stimulates the imagination.
Published on September 19, 2009 by C. Boyd
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