Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ensemble Sarband – Jesus Of Nazareth

One of my favorite records of all time is John Lewis & The Modern Jazz Quartet doing Bach. I am on a new high with this new release of Bach tunes, mostly with a beautiful, ravishing middle-eastern flavor, but the tune I chose to highlight is definitely a full-on jazz treatment of Bach. Love it. Other extremely satisfying joyful earfuls are We Have A Law, and Wept Most Bitterly. The entire CD makes for a full feast of flavors – the most middle-eastern flavored tunes include a vocalist that moves me to tears despite the language barrier. I know these tunes in their standard flavor, usually with a soprano treatment that takes tying me down with ropes to keep me from shutting it off. What this ensemble manages is to make Bach’s music sound like it was composed in 2009, for ears like mine. So the vocalist is not screaming with hilarity at the highest levels of human ability to hear and trying her best to make dogs howl incessantly. Nope, this vocalist, Fadia El-Hage, warmly brings Bach to me with tenderness and a loving knowledge that simply singing the notes with passion will bring the truths Bach wants to convey to life for me. My favorite vocal treatment her is O Mighty Love. Fadia is from Beirut, other musicians are from Bagdad and Munich. Truly an international look at the Passion of Jesus Christ, with the flavors of today set so that we are aware during each musical theme that the trials Jesus endured for his beliefs are being reenacted daily in the same region of the world by martyrs who have a deep and abiding love for their family and homeland as they are senselessly attacked by armies from the other side of the globe, along with armies from nearby countries that are paid for by the taxpayers of that same country on the other side of the globe. We all know who that country is, but no one wants to mention it by name for fear of its wrath and propensity for throwing folks who criticize it in prison without charges, without legal representation, and torturing them endlessly in the name of “democracy”. More irony is met when those who perpetrating these crimes against humanity do so in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, the bitter tears along with the irony of these international musicians playing the most beautiful jazz available in the world today. A special shoutout for The Tears On My Cheeks Are Of No Avail. Ensemble Sarband


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