CD REVIEW: Sprinting Gazelle

Reem Kelani

Sprinting Gazelle

Palestinian Songs from the Motherland

and the Diaspora

Fuse Records CFCD048

The ten tracks of this disc are presented as the result of the research conducted by Reem Kelani of the music and poetry of the Palestinian people from the past and still practiced today. In addition, many of the tracks are arranged by Kelani and some of the music is composed by her. Though the music represented is usually performed on indigenous instruments, some arrangements merge the styles and instrumentation of the Middle East with Western instrumentation such as piano and double bass.

The opening track demonstrates the complexity of the vocal style from this region, and Kelani recreates these with ease. Vocal trills and leaps as well as sustained notes that stand alone against a drone accompaniment are the highlight of the opening.

The orchestration is increased for The Cameleer Tormented My Heart. Though the instrumentation and arrangement are refined, the track retains an attractive raw quality that has a compelling groove. Many tracks feature the authentic instruments such as the yarghul (similar to a clarinet but with two pipes), nay (end-blown flute), and daf (open drum with metallic ringlets). It is interesting to hear them in ensembles that sometimes include piano, saxophone, and string quartet.

Several tracks demonstrate the mix of Western musics. Galilean Lullaby finds the folk elements along with instrumentation and moods found in jazz and acoustic rock ensembles. Above this, the vocal presents the lyric with microtonal slides and goes between melismatic decorations, melody, and recitation. During Il Hamdillah, Kelani sings sections in portamento leaps that would be the envy of a Moog synthesizer.

The album is an enjoyable presentation that boasts the complex arrangements this music is capable of in a way that remains focused and entertaining throughout.

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