Ibrahim Maalouf – Wind
(Mi’ster Productions IBM4. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Like its chief inspiration, Miles Davis’s (spontaneously improvised) soundtrack to Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf’s music for René Clair’s 1927 silent film The Prey of the Wind is at once hauntingly melancholic and intelligently tailored to specific scenes and moods.
The Davis influence is at its most overt in the album’s opener, ‘Doubts’, a gently insistent trumpet plaint over Larry Grenadier’s richly cushioning repeated bass figure and Clarence Penn’s sensitively whispering brushes, but Maalouf is skilful and versatile enough to conjure up a wide variety of moods and atmospheres as required by the film (‘breath … The wind. The voyage. The melancholy of distance. The heartbreak of the protagonist … the schizophrenia of a woman whom he falls in love with’ in his own words) throughout an absorbing programme also involving the supremely sensitive but surprisingly powerful saxophonist Mark Turner and Maalouf’s long-time associate and co-arranger, pianist Frank Woeste.
Paris-based, Lebanon-born Maalouf plays a trumpet with an extra valve on it, enabling him to play quarter tones, accessing what Penn calls ‘the Arabic side of jazz’, and his playing, especially on slow, quiet tunes such as ‘Waiting’, is imbued with an almost conversational intimacy, an intensely human vulnerability that brings Tomasz Stanko to mind.
Suitably evocative, affecting music, springing (mostly) from relatively straightforward seeds (repeated snatches of melody, brooding bass figures) but rich and complex enough (and impeccably performed by a top-notch band) to stand on its own, sans film.
GREAT…This words impulse a listen this work…All the best, Gustavo…email@example.com
Highly recommended to anyone new to Maalouf. Chris is spot on about the balance of melody and complexity, and the similarities with Stanko, who can also create magnificently dense bursts of melodic flavour.
As we know from Miles' experience, jazz can make a highly original and atmospheric soundtrack – I'd love to see the Clair film with this played alongside – but Maalouf stands fair comparison with Miles as a performance that stands alone. The use of quarter tone adds a delicious sense of mystery, which (though I don't know the film) must be very effective in creating atmosphere.