Anouar Brahem - Le Voyage de Sahar
Recorded February 2005
ECM 1915

Anouar Brahem Trio

Le Voyage de Sahar

  • Anouar Brahem : oud
  • François Couturier : piano
  • Jean Louis Matinier : accordion
  • Sur le fleuve
  • Le voyage de Sahar
  • L'Aube
  • Vague / E la nave va
  • Les jardins de Ziryab
  • Nuba
  • La chambre
  • Cordoba
  • Halfaouine
  • La chambre var.
  • Zarabanda
  • Eté andalous
  • Vague var.

"Edison Award" (Netherlands)

"Sélection" Vibrations (France)

"Sélection" FIP (France)

"R10" Classica-Répertoire (France)

"Editor’s Choice" The Gramophone (South Korea)

****** Irish times (Irland)

****  The independent (United Kingdom)

****** NMZ shallplatten (Germany)

***** Stereo (Germany)

"Die audiophile Jazz-CD" Stereoplay  (Germany)

Brahem is a marvellously lyrical musician and his long, ever-expanding melodies suit both his and Matinier’s approach to their instruments. Couturier’s role, by contrast, is to act as a fixed point in the landscape and allow his colleagues to travel always hopefully. It’s hard to choose a favourite piece, though the opening “Sur Le Fleuve” is a beautiful statement of purpose and intent. But there are so many glorious moments. … This is wonderfully evocative music, soaked in the atmosphere of places and time. Listening to “Été Andalous”, one feels that dry, burning heat and sees that fabulous blue sky and the landscape and buildings shimmering in the sun.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise

Tunisian oud master Anouar Brahem casts a spell with his music. Blending jazz, flamenco, and Arabic traditions, he has become the Jimi Hendrix of this ancient instrument. …
The atmosphere this music evokes is part smoky North African souk café and part cool Parisian jazz cabaret. Brahem’s oud lines wind ever upward in a stylish, snaking arabesque of notes, seconded by the keyboards of his accompanists. This is strange, exotic music, thrilling, and stunning.
Vintage Guitar

This music is difficult to describe, as it blends myriad styles and forms spanning several cultures and centuries, but it speaks to the heart directly with a beauty and profundity that only the most obtuse listener could remain indifferent to. … Besides being a recording of extraordinary depth and dimensionality, Le Voyage de Sahar also serves as a master class to players of any stringed instrument, for Brahem’s phrasing, articulation, ornamentation, and sense of space are often simply breathtaking.
Barry Cleveland, Frets Magazine

Brahem’s latest (CD), again with Matinier and Couturier, reinforces the impression made by their first album: that here is a closely integrated trio playing markedly individual music whose simplicity and accessibility belie the care and subtlety that must have gone into its creation. Over its lovely contours flow North African, flamenco, jazz and classical elements, permeated by the composer’s vision, firmly rooted, yet not circumscribed by those roots, and unified by that and the empathy of the players.
Ray Comiskey, Irish Times

The trio melds Brahem’s haunting oud virtuosity with impressionistic splashes of French café society.
Melodic, graceful, and moving, Le Voyage de Sahar will linger in your mind’s eye and ear.
David Lynch, Austin Chronicle

Le Voyage de Sahar offenbart nun einen weiteren Meilenstein der zeitgenössischen arabischen Musik, in die Brahem seine langjährigen Erfahrungen einfließen lässt. Im Trio mit François Couturier und Jean-Louis Matinier entsteht eine entzückend einfache, aber intensive Karambolage mit französischer und spanischer Musik. Hier vertreibt die Emotionalität den Nationalismus und führt am Ende doch beide Strömungen zusammen.
Klaus Hübner, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik

Wie schon auf dem zauberhaften Vorgänger Le Pas du Chat Noir verwebt der 1957 in Tunesien geborene Oud-Spieler auch hier diskret und raffiniert arabische Skalen und Rhythmen mit europäischen Klängen von schillernder Vielseitigkeit. ... Meist parlieren Brahem, Jean-Louis Matinier und François Couturier in wechselnden Zwiegesprächen von vibrierender Intensität, die sich als zauberhaft leichtes Pingpong wunderbarer Ideen erweisen. Sternenklar aufgenommen im Auditorio Radio Svizzera, Lugano, führt diese Reise in eine Traumwelt voll poetischer Echos der Erinnerung: Abstraktionen französischer Muzette-Seligkeiten ebenso wie sanfte Schatten klassischer Kammermusik, gewürzt mit allen Herrlichkeiten des Orients.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay

Brahem gelingt es meisterhaft, die drei Instrumente mit ihren klanglichen Eigenheiten und traditionellen Hintergründen zu einer gemeinsamen Aussage zusammenzuführen. Perlende Klavierläufe fügen sich ebenso in den Fluss der Komposition wie Musette-Melodien des Akkordeons und arabisch angehauchte Klangornamente der Laute. Im feinsinnigen Wechsel zwischen Solo-, Duo- und Trio-Passagen tauschen die Instrumente beständig ihre Rolle als Melodie- und Rhythmusträger und bringen immer neue Facetten der Musik zum Leuchten.
Ruth Renée Reif, Fono Forum

Mezza Voce, la musique poursuit avec pudeur sa lente quête introspective au plus intime de ses frontières intérieures. Il y a beaucoup de délicatesse et de raffinement dans la façon dont ces trois instruments remettent sans cesse en chantier leurs stratégies orchestrales, toutes de nuances, d’esquisses, d’équilibres menacés. Une élégance extrême dans cette limpidité expressive, ces miroitements de surface qui dissimulent sous leur glacis des trésors de virtuosité collective. Une musique précieuse dans tous les sens du terme.
Stéphane Ollivier, Jazzman

Un jeu ouvert, aérien, quasi transparent, où la justesse de propos est parfaitement en phase avec l’économie de notes.
Francisco Cruz, Vibrations

Une musique arabe contemporaine et ancestrale, une énigme sans frontière qui souvent tutoie les anges, un monde arabo-andalou vaste, idéalisé, projeté
Emmanuelle Honorin, Mondomix

Le nouvel album du virtuose tunisien invite à se laisser envoûter par des mélopées d’une pureté poétique absolue.
Yasmina Lahlou, L’Intelligent Jeune Afrique

“If every band projects an image of community, then Mr Brahem’s trio – part takht, part jazz trio, part chamber ensemble, evokes a kind of 21st century Andalusia, in which European and Arab sensibilities have merged so profoundly that the borders between them have disappeared. The image may be utopian, but its beauty is undeniable.”
Adam Shatz, New York Times

Anouar Brahem, born in Halfaouine, Tunisia in 1957, is regarded as his country’s most innovative oud player. As a former pupil of master oudist Ali Sriti, he is thoroughly steeped in the secrets and subtleties of Arab classical music. He has absorbed this information and gone out to meet the world, a sophisticated modern musician with profound historical knowledge.

During his years in Paris in the early 1980s, jazz claimed Brahem’s attention and his fascination for music on ECM led him to contact producer Manfred Eicher. Since 1990 their creative relationship has resulted in the albums “Barzakh”, “Conte de l’Incroyable Amour”, “Madar” (with Jan Garbarek), “Khomsa”, “Thimar” (with John Surman and Dave Holland), “Astrakan café”, and “Le pas du chat noir”, as well as the anthology “Vague” (released in France only). All of these discs have received a great deal of critical praise, none more so than “Le pas du chat noir”, recorded 2002, which represented a giant step forward for Brahem as composer as well as player. Admirers of the music offered by Brahem with François Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier were mesmerised by its gently-swaying insistence and the way Anouar’s pieces, while still rooted in Arab modes, seemed to find points of contact with other forms.

Acoustic Guitar magazine called Brahem/Couturier/Matinier “the oddest trio ever to play contemporary Arabic music”, before going on to laud the work: “The result is far more than an expression of Arabic traditions; echoes of Satie, Paris cafés, flamenco, and Balkan music infuse the melodies. Accordion, oud and piano continually exchange roles, each providing melody, rhythm, and ornamental filigree.” London’s Time Out spoke of “sparse lyricism of an extraordinary beauty. Such is its purity, simplicity and subtlety that it’s almost impossible to imagine a lovelier meeting of Arabic and European musics.” In The Independent, Phil Johnson described “Le pas du chat noir” as “a complete delight: 70 minutes of intricately dappled, Debussy-like settings for a Maghreb chamber trio. And if the light is falling just right, it can make your listening room feel like a Matisse interior.”

Extensive touring on both sides of the Atlantic following the release of “Le pas du chat noir” permitted the trio to grow into a real ‘band’, with Brahem increasingly giving interpretative leeway to his associates. Both François Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier are well-known improvisers with strong reputations in European jazz.

Pianist Couturier won France’s coveted Django Reinhardt Prize in 1980, an award that served to awaken international attention, and he subsequently toured the world as a member of guitarist John McLaughlin’s groups. Couturier first collaborated with Anouar Brahem in 1985 in a project also including Turkish musicians Barbaros Erköse and Kudsi Erguner and subsequently appeared on Brahem’s “Khomsa” album. In1997 he recorded the duo album “Poros” with violinist Dominique Pifarély, a frequent musical partner. Other musicians with whom he has worked include Robin Kenyatta, Eddy Louis, Jean-Marc Larché and Didier Levallet. In December 2005, Francois Couturier recorded as yet untitled album for ECM, with participating musicians including Jean-Louis Matinier, saxophonist Jean-Marc Larché and cellist Anja Lechner.

Jean-Louis Matinier made his ECM debut with Brahem on “Le pas du chat noir” but he has had working relationships with other muscians associated with the label, including Gianluigi Trovesi, Enrico Rava and Louis Sclavis, and is widely admired for the fluidity of his approach. Originally a classical player he has made the transition to jazz and other improvised forms seem natural and inevitable.

“Le Voyage de Sahar” features persuasive, emotionally powerful new compositions by Anouar Brahem, and also incorporates new approaches to three of his most requested pieces: “Vague”, “E la nave va” and “Halfaouine”.

Brahem, Couturier and Matinier take the music of “Le Voyage de Sahar” on the road in March with concerts in Portugal, France, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. The tour culminates in a special double concert with the Brahem trio plus Rolf Lislevand’s group in Munich on April 8.