Home » Stories » Dave Soldier - Zajal is very unusual but very impressive / Jazz Quad

Top 10 for Jan

Dave Soldier - Zajal is very unusual but very impressive / Jazz Quad

Bookmark and Share

The third time I meet with the works of American musician Dave Solger (aka David Sulzer, a prominent neuropsychiatric scientist from Columbia University), and each time he amazes with the unusual, imagination and creativity of his musical projects. First it was The Eighth Hour of Amduat (2016) - an avant-garde opera (?) On the themes of Ancient Egypt, then The Brainwave Music Project (2017), a joint project with fellow scientist Brad Garton, where a computer program shot brain brain encephalographs of improvising musicians, translated they turned them into the language of music and turned them into the background for real improvisations. And now a project that can be attributed to archaeological excavations in the field of ethnic music in search of the roots of popular music. There is one more more politicized subtext here, but - about everything in order.

This time, Solger turned to Andalusia, a region in the south of Spain, during the X-XIII centuries, when it was dominated by Muslim Moors (Cordoba caliphate, then Granad emirate), and the reconquest (conquering the lands by Christian kingdoms) has not yet gained full power . This period, under fragile political equilibrium, is called the golden age for culture and science, when there was an intensive and mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and cultural values between Christians, Muslims and Jews. It was at that time that the foundations of such musical forms as fandango, buleri, peter, and gypsy flamenco or the poetry and song styles popular in Lebanon today in muvash and zajal (which gave the name to the album) were laid. Traces of that time are kept to the best of their ability in Spain even today - I saw them while traveling in Andalusia, I saw them and Solger, and from him they gave rise to the idea of the currently implemented project.

Solger composed compositions in the style of various stylistic trends in Andalusian music to verses by prominent Muslim (al-Amma al-Tusili, Ubad al-Quazazaz, ibn Sahl) and Jewish (Shmuel ha-Nagid, Moshe ibn Ezra, Yehud Halevi) poets of that time, added to them one composition to the verses of the great Sufi poet Jalaleddin Rumi, and gathered for their performance a large international team of instrumentalists and vocalists. The songs are in Arabic and Hebrew, Old Spanish and Farsi. These old-new songs are sung by Israeli singer of Sephardic origin Ana Nimouz, singer and oud singer from Lebanon Maurice Hadid, flamenco performers Triana Bautista and Ishmael Fernandez, and musicians from different countries and directions also play modern and traditional instruments. In this project, Solger himself plays the guitar (he specially took flamenco lessons) and keyboards, and he translated Jewish and Arabic texts into English.

This album is very unusual but very impressive. Least of all from entertaining music, most of all from ethnomusicology. It is interesting to listen to, but even better to watch. Solger posted the entire album publicly available on the Web. There, each composition is accompanied by its own video series: from the old silent cinema, to the works of Goya and Solger's partner on a number of projects by Vitaly Komar, one of the founders of social art. Highly recommend!