Tapping into his heritage, American multi-instrumentalist’s ensemble invite local panorama to their palette.
Ever a journeyman, Scott Jeffers’ oeuvre is for the most part the result of his overseas voyages, with tunes delivered post-factum, once the golden dust of cultural discoveries has settled in his mind to be transported to collective point of view, so “Marrakesh” should stand out on the basis of its provenance alone, even if this album’s sonic imagery didn’t move it further from the usual. Composed during the Arizonan’s another Middle Eastern adventure, the songs on display feature, alongside his fellow travelers, guest players from Lebanon, Jordan and Iran and are infused with on-field sounds that give the overall picture authentic, rather than exotic, flavors, and no English lyrics can ruin such impression.
It’s especially notable on the least spicy number, the oud-spliced “Take You Away” which opens this record, whisking the listener to the Levantine pop-landscape, while letting Jeffers outline his creative agenda, before having Hanada Ishaq join him on the “inshallah” plea on the middle eight, and then proceeding together to “Ala Ma’ak” to drink from Arabian source, where Scott’s violin will cry so passionately. Yet if the platter’s title track feels cinematically spellbinding, placing orchestral grandeur near to a casbah wall, the duetting voices on “Debke” brings sweet worry into the folk dance flow, as traditional instruments interweave and swirl.
The market tumult may slow down when the transparent saracen balladry leads “On The Sahara” across the desert and on to the sea, for the infectious, albeit wordless, “Corsairs Of Byblos” to continue the theme of this album’s predecessor until the mini-epic “Lost In The Labyrinth” shows the weary traveler and still eager listener the scope of musical mirage Scott Jeffers’ mind-gates keep shut in so the non-spiritual world wouldn’t intrude. “Marrakesh” is a rare, and precious, opportunity to sneak inside and revel.