Rabih Abou-Khalil - Blue Camel
World Fusion
8 songs (60:59)
Release year: 1992
Wikipedia, Enja Records
Reviewed by Misha
Archive review

Blue Camel, obviously pointing at the fusion of Arabian camels with blue notes, is exactly the record that its name suggests: kind of blue, but not quite. The record is not only oud player and composer Rabih Abou-Khalil’s finest effort so far, it has even been called “a new Kind Of Blue”. Looking beyond the individual qualities of all players, what is really remarkable is the interplay and selflessness on Blue Camel. Abou-Khalil generally alternates solos with Charlie Mariano on alto saxophone and the trumpet and of Kenny Wheeler, but a broad scale of instruments is offered to throw in their towels, most notably varying percussion that explores African, Indian and South American music. One could listen for rhythmic satisfaction alone.

The album glories in crafting a successful blend of Arabian music and jazz: a very homogeneous and enjoyable fusion with enough shift in mood and method to keep things interesting, but in the more consistent environment set by the first track “Sahara”. The hazy saxophone of Mariano is in perfect place, portraying the pressing heat that the timbre of the oud already possesses. The occasional preference of the flügelhorn over the trumpet is just as apt, due to its darker colour. Melodies that satisfy every geographical aspect of the album are especially convincing in slower songs like A Night In The Mountains, played imaginatively and creatively inserted, while the solo performances of more uplifting songs such as Tsarka compel equally.

Even if not every track is as moving, physically or emotionally, the album remains extremely enjoyable for a pedestrian as much as listened to more intensely. Whether the weather is sweet or sweaty, after twelve or after twelve, Blue Camel is an excellent choice for almost any social or lonesome activity or non-activity.

Killing Songs :
A whole lot.
Misha quoted 95 / 100
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