1001 Nights Orchestra
Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Oct. 11, 2002
1001 Nights OrchestraMusic From the Middle East & Beyond (Kamooli) As the title implies, Music From the Middle East & Beyond travels a broad cultural tack. The Austin-based international all-star collective, led by Iranian singer/multi-instrumentalist Kamran Hooshmand, features such stalwart musicians as accordionist Don Weeda (Slavadillo), Lauren Dealbert (Divahn), Armenian clarinetist Ken Maranian, Lisa Schneider, and bassist Mark Rubin (Rubinchik's Yiddische Band). And Hooshmand's no slouch either, playing no fewer than eight instruments, including the Persian hammered dulcimer, nylon-string guitar, and Afghan lute. No surprise then that the Orchestra has so many varied accomplishments, including headlining ACC's International Festival, rousing concerts in venues like Bertram Hall, several live radio performances, and singular events like their award-winning original score to the silent film great, The Thief of Bagdad. Picture this album, therefore, as a detailed, rich-color snapshot of the band's air sculpture to date. And an exceptional one at that. The lyrics convey emotion effortlessly, but instrumental melodies and rhythms have to work harder to break through our oftentimes slack-jawed circadian existence. But when they do -- from an anonymous Black Sea tune and a wandering Jewish composition to an Afghani folk melody and Greek rave-up -- they affect just a little more, go a bit deeper. So much so that song titles don't have to be referenced. It's that good.