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(69:00, Zone di Musica)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Lovers 3:58 2. The Magician 7:55 3. The Hierophant 2:26 4. The Emperor 4:45 5. The Chariot 2:41 6. Justice 2:56 7. The Hermit 1:26 8. The Strength 5:10 9. The Hanged Man 4:14 10. Death 2:42 11. The Empress and the Judgement 6:08 12. The Temperance 2:20 13. The Devil 2:50 14. The Tower 4:19 15. The Star 1:45 16. The Moon 4:30 17. The Sun 3:37 18. The World 5:18 LINEUP: Elias Nardi Ц oud Carlo La Manna Ц bass Roberto Segato Ц keyboards Zachary Baker Ц drum kit With: Emanuele Le Pera Ц percussion Andrea Vezzoli Ц sax, clarinet Savino Pantone Ц viola Dania Tosi Ц vocals
Prolusion. The Italian band ELIAS NARDI QUARTET revolves around the talents of composer and oud player Elias Nardi. He has been a student of the double bass as used in classical and jazz, but in recent years he has devoted himself to the oud, including taking lessons from well known performers and tutors in the Middle East. Elias Nardi Quartet released their debut album "Orange Tree" in 2010. "The Tarot Album" is their second, and was issued through Zone di Musica in 2012.
Analysis. There's a certain uniform quality to this sophomore production by Elias Nardi and his quartet. Somehing of a one-dimensional approach one might say, as most compositions in this conceptual creation are variations over one basic approach. While this does to some extent hinder the individual creations to gain a strong and marked identity, it does give the album as a whole a certain unique flavor. As one might already surmise, the oud is the key instrument throughout this production, plucked, resonating notes that invite associations to the Middle East, Arabia and world music. Slowly plucked notes with ample room for each individual tone to resonate, pacer wandering motifs with more of a compact expression with the main resonances appearing whenever there's a slight pause in the proceedings, pace-filled runs to the point of being frantic leaving little room for any resonances at all. The latter two aspects are most frequent on this production, the oud the limelight instrument and by allowing it to have more pacier runs and allowing this particular instrument to determine the intensity of just about every composition the oud shines ever so brightly on this disc. Contrasting the often pace-filled and mostly harder, compact sound of the oud we find the fretless bass as the main supplemental option. Warm and gentle in sound as only the fretless bass can be, and adding a distinct jazz flavor to the proceedings. An effective contrasting feature utilized extensively throughout, and just about always in a much slower tempo than the oud. As far as resonances go, the bass gets to resonate just about every note played on this album, which makes this instrument just about as vital in establishing a specific sound and identity to this production. Percussion details are used sparingly but effectively throughout, and as an additional level of contrast we're treated to a fair few instances of gently wandering, light toned piano motifs as well. Further expanding the canvas are occasional smooth keyboard backdrops, infrequent sax and clarinet details and the violin, the latter heavily emphasizing the Middle East/Arabian sound when utilized. The end result is a well made album. The music as such isn't the most challenging around, but as far as contemplative, mellow music with meditative qualities goes it is a highly successful production.
Conclusion. Residing somewhere in the middle of a triangle consisting of jazz, world music and new age we find Elias Nardi Quartet's latest production "The Tarot Album". Just over an hours worth of mellow beauty, contemplative music that invites to meditation and tranquil thoughts. An album to calm the mind, music you listen to when mind and body needs to relax or when you seek mental and physical tranquility. If you have a taste for gentle combinations of jazz and world music this one should be categorized as a must buy.
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