Maria Farantouri, Beyond the Borders, ECM

From August 2019. “Traditional music from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Armenia’’ does not really indicate how much of an art music this is nor does it suggest that the traditional here can be timeless and to an extent modern too in the same way that …

Published: 16 Nov 2019. Updated: 7 months.

From August 2019. “Traditional music from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Armenia’’ does not really indicate how much of an art music this is nor does it suggest that the traditional here can be timeless and to an extent modern too in the same way that Greek drama continues to have relevance for actors, dramatists and audiences.

Singer Maria Farantouri projects grandeur and tragedy in equal measure to a striking humanity. She achieves profundity throughout. The compositions are by saz player Cihan Türkoğlu, and material spans huge terrain via Sephardic song of exile to a setting of Heraclitus, wedding music, and much else.

Anja Lechner in the five-piece instrumental ensemble is at the centre of the formal sound. She is one of the world’s finest cellists and ECM have been a big champion of her work over many years and proves how much she is a major artist although here in the democratic setting of a group is quite anonymous.

Recorded in a studio in Athens produced by Manfred Eicher if you like traditional music then you will enjoy this. If you do not you will not. An excellent album where traditional music fits into an ocean of sound these days is a big subject and nothing here poses let along answers that question given that it is not at all about polemics, issues or style, more about humanity via a wide angle. An endangered species? Yes. However, records such as Beyond the Borders protect and nurture, challenge and add new life part of why they signify and deliver so much.

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Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring Wayne Shorter, Barbican, London

From February 2016. The first night of the latest Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra residency, this was a very special occasion because to find Wayne Shorter on a stage together anywhere with Wynton Marsalis is not an every day event by any means. …

Published: 16 Nov 2019. Updated: 7 months.

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From February 2016. The first night of the latest Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra residency, this was a very special occasion because to find Wayne Shorter on a stage together anywhere with Wynton Marsalis is not an every day event by any means.

Skain was sat by drummer Ali Jackson at the back in his customary place within the trumpet section, Wayne of course sat up front near the piano, the saxophonists in the orchestra you could tell slightly in awe and admiration in a line fanning out beside him.

The 82-year-old Miles Davis and Weather Report giant of jazz played on most pieces, the evening filled with his many classic compositions, and there was a certain democracy in the arranging of his music as quite a number of the 15-piece orchestra – Victor Goines, Walter Blanding, Ted Nash, Vincent Gardner, Marcus Printup, Chris Crenshaw, Carlos Henriquez, Ali Jackson, Sherman Irby and Wynton himself – contributed to the shape and style in their input.

The second set opened with ‘E. S. P.,’ probably the pick of the whole evening, in terms of ensemble rapport speaking of which there’s a lightness of touch in all sections, power only when needed and such swift response to tempo and volume, the texture like silk or sable, the switches from saxes through trombones, reeds and flute skimming across the air to the rhythm section all part of a pulsing flicker and shimmer. The main rhythmic pull and push was left to Henriquez, whose arrangement of ‘The Three Marias’ let the music breathe and murmur.

Wynton name-checked Wayne very respectfully many times, sometimes referring to him by his first and last name, sometimes “Mr Shorter” and the Newark-born great, switching from tenor which he began the concert with on ‘Yes or No’ from JuJu to soprano for large chunks of the concert the tenor coming back sometimes. His soprano playing was just beautiful at times, containing that oblique sense of mystery and musical alchemy that for decades he has conjured so uniquely, the beauty in his interpreting even the most naked of notes so striking and unforgettable.

Stephen Graham

Wayne Shorter with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra above during the soundcheck. Photo: JALCO on Twitter