Dhafer Youssef – Birds Requiem

Recently, I was examining a pretty good music blog and came across an album classified as Arabic jazz. I was intrigued as to what this would sound like; therefore, I said YOLO and decided to check it out. After about a week or two of listening to it every night before going to sleep, I still am being taken away by its beauty. Dhafer Youssef is a jazz musician from Tunisia, who moved to Europe over twenty years ago. He gracefully merges Western jazz music with Arabic instruments into a seamless and cohesive work of art. Youssef’s most recent album, Birds Requiem, begins with Birds Canticum, which consists of slow jazzy piano and some type of Arabic flute. Right away, this song envelops the listener in an atmosphere that is ancient, while at the same time modern. The slow, soft, nighttime-style jazz beautifully meshes with the ancient tenor of the Arabic instruments and Youssef’s vocals that range from soft to high-pitched wails. Youssef is also a skilled Oud player, as heard on Sunset Blasphemy and Ascetic Mood, which certainly has a mystical mood. Blending Souls & Shades (to Shiraz) has some piano and some sexy jazzy guitar solos interwoven with the Arabic instrumentation. Sevdah (to Jon Hassel) is similar, but with some sexy trumpet accompanied by upright bass. 39th Gulay (to Istanbul) is a little more upbeat with some nice flute. Birds Requiem has quite a mystical atmosphere that simply transcends time, as on Ascetic Journey. This album provides quite a journey for the listener and is ideal for the evening. Birds Requiem finds an excellent balance between East and West, while still maintaining the integrity of both forms of music. I am no expert on jazz, as I have only recently started to explore it, but those seeking jazz with some worldly flavor, Dhafer Youssef’s Birds Requiem is an ideal start.

Genre: Arabic Jazz, Jazz, World
Country: Tunisia
Label: OKeh Records
Release: October 25, 2013

1. Birds Canticum “Birds Requiem” Suite
2. Sweet Blasphemy
3. Blending Souls & Shades (to Shiraz)
4. Ascetic Mood
5. Fuga Hirundinum “Birds Requiem” Suite
6. Khira “Indicium Divinum” Elegy for My Mother
7. 39th Gülay (to Istanbul)
8. Archaic Feathers “Birds Requiem” Suite
9. Sevdah (to Jon Hassell)
10. Ascetic Journey
11. Whirling Birds Ceremony “Birds Requiem” Suite

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