This album, made by a collaboration of Moroccan and Brazilian musicians is unusual. Very. The result is very uncommon but in a very positive and a musically pleasing manner. Al Qantara/The bridge is one of the most gentle albums I have ever heard, it offers a light touch that is as mesmerising as it is musical. The highly talented band plays north African sounds that seamlessly intermingle with samba and north Brazilian samba-canção music that is reminiscent of the songs of Dorival Caymmi. The music flows effortlessly and never attacks, rather it grows and develops.
The musicians include Benjamin Taubkin (piano), Ari Colares (percussion), Joao Taubkin (bass), Lulinha Alencar (accordion), Mehdi Nassouli (gimbri) Farid El Foulahi (oud), Lahoucini Bagir (percussion). Taubkin’s piano is flowing yet very measured and never dominating. Although it’s credited to the pianist the listener will be hard pressed to find a ‘leader’ on these tunes. The album moves musically from east to west across the Atlantic, with the first track offering a breath taking ‘summary’ of what is to follow. There are two tracks that are predominantly Moroccan/Arabic with one that offers a small taste of Arabic singing.
The recording quality is very good, and as all the instruments are acoustic the sound is natural and forgoes artificiality and silly effects. My favourite track was the opener O Deserto É Aqui, but this is an album I have not stopped listening to for over a week, so the rest of the tracks now join it in a slightly compromised equal first place. The music will appeal during the commute, be it via headphones or the car audio, at home it will make for a happy and rhythmic musical short hour (45’18” to be exact). The music I have reviewed this year has been exhilarating for the most part, this album has just raised the bar and should be a candidate in the top 5 places come the end of year list. Extremely highly recommended.