Rob Luft ‘Dahab Days’
(Edition Records. Album review by Tony Dudley-Evans)
The title of guitarist Rob Luft‘s third album is Dahab Days, a name taken from the Egyptian town Dahab in the Sinai Desert, where Luft spent time composing after appearing at the Cairo Jazz Festival.
Luft’s first impression of the town was that it was ‘bright, sunny and uplifting’, and this description could well be used to describe the music on this album. It is nicely varied and draws on influences from sources as wide ranging as West African guitar playing, the guitar style of Brazilian guitar player Toninho Horta, the electronic sounds of Aphex Twin, medieval music from Arab Andalucia and Duke Ellington’s Money Jungle trio with Charles Mingus and Max Roach.
The core quintet has Joe Wright on tenor saxophone, Joe Webb on piano and Hammond Organ, Tom McCredie on bass guitar and Corrie Dick on drums; Luft plays a bit of kalimba on one track, “African Flower”, otherwise guitar throughout. Seven of the compositions are his.
The quintet has very much a group sound, which is often quite ambient and atmospheric; on four tracks they are joined by the Amika String Quartet whose sound provides, in Luft’s own words, ‘a carpet’ over which the quintet plays. Nonetheless, there are excellent solos from Wright and Webb, and they are joined on three tracks by vocalist Alice Zawadzki and on two tracks by Byron Wallen on trumpet. Steve Buckley also joins on two tracks, playing a fine penny whistle solo on Sunshine Music.
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Two tracks stand out in particular. One is “Daylight Saving Time”, which goes through three variations; it begins in West African highlife style with Luft creating the sound of desert blues on his guitar , but moves into a groove-based passage before ending with a kind of ballad lullaby with Joe Webb prominent on piano. The other is “African Flower, the Ellington tune from the Money Jungle session, where the quintet adds a bluesy energy to their version of the tune.
This is a very enjoyable album that highlights Luft’s versatility, as a guitarist, a composer and the leader of a very distinctive quintet, and Rob Luft has also explained the context to each track in a brilliantly informative way on the EPK.