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The music on the record brings to mind a like-minded hybrid of Arabic tradition, jazz, and other international flavors explored by fellow Palestinian expat Simon Shaheen, who developed a sophisticated fusion of traditions with his group Qantara. There's no missing that Zarour uses the music of his homeland as the foundation for his original music, but his elegant arrangements overlay a rhythmic buoyancy that borrows effortlessly from postbop and even bossa nova. Like Shaheen, Zarour avoids glib pastiche and instead makes meaningful, seamless connections, rigorously integrating disparate styles so they make musical sense. There are moments on the album I find a bit too chirpy and light—some of the flute solos by Elizabeth Diaz are rather florid—but by and large the arrangements, including some pieces that utilize a string quartet, are pitch-perfect.
For Saturday's concert Zarour will be joined by Diaz, bassist Nick Macri, New York percussionist Tareq Rantisi, guitarist Alex Wing, cellist Hannah Vis, and Boston-based clarinetist Athanasios Athanassiadis. Below you can check out one of the album's best pieces, "Sama'i," which features extended playing from Zarour on buzuq.
Correction: Wanees Zarour plays a Turkish oud rather than a buzuq on "Sama'i."
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