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Maryem and Ernie Tollar: Il Matar, Taksim Kamanga, Gigue, Longa Baladi, and Heartsoul, from CAIRO TO TORONTO (Independent)
A girl is born in Cairo in 1968 and her family moves to Halifax. When she is 12 they move back to Egypt for five years. Maryem rebels at the uprooting, rejecting Arabic music, language and culture. She begins to sing pop music. In 1994 she goes to work for her musician brother in a project that requires Arabic singing, and that changes everything. She embraces her roots, takes lessons with the Toronto-based Egyptian musician George Sawa, and goes to study in Syria and Egypt. She sings in a group called Ritual Party, where she meets the saxophonist and flute player Ernie Tollar. They get married and this CD has several pictures of them and their three young children.
This CD is a great example of the melding of Arabic, jazz, and western folk. I started this set with Il Matar, which of all the tracks I think best bridges east and west because of the assertive jazz harmonies. Maryem Tollar is a great singer and these musicians, mostly Arab-Canadians, are a band that sounds like it knows where it's going. The Cairo violinist who joins them for a few tracks, Alfred Gamil, is beautiful.
I just discovered that Maryem Tollar played at the Our Way Home Reunion in Castlegar in 2007. There's a YouTube video of one song from the Brilliant Cultural Centre.
Allen Toussaint: St. James Infirmary, Blue Drag, Solitude, and Winin' Boy Blues from THE BRIGHT MISSISSIPPI (Nonesuch)
Remember that song Workin in a Coal Mine by Lee Dorsey? Or another one by Dorsey: Everything I Do Gon be Funky From Now On……or Pain in my Heart recorded by Otis Redding, or Fortune Teller recorded by a bunch of people including the early Stones. The list all the people Allen Toussant has written for, produced, arranged, played piano for, is long.
Well Allen Toussaint may have made his living writing and producing music like that: rock, rhythm and blues, and soul, but something of old New Orleans is in his blood, and late in his career he has made an album celebrating that, and this is it, The Bright Mississippi, with a relaxed and sociable visit to tunes written by jazz greats like Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn, backed by a great band including clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot, and bassist David Pilch. It's friendly and authentic music.
Vivaldi: Autumn from The Four Seasons performed by Virtuosi di Roma conducted by Renato Fasano (EMI)
A tribute to the new season that's upon us-- I know because riding my bike down to the station to do the show in the early morning I regretted not wearing gloves.