Recorded at the French Cultural Center Bastille Day celebration festival July 2013.
Audio: Graham Tobias from MediaStructura.com. Video Jean and James Dunoyer from Dunoyerfilm.com
Lyrics: Regie Gibson. Music and arrangement: Jacques Pardo
Regie Gibson: Lead Vocals, percussion
Burcu Gulec: Lead Vocals
Jacques Pardo: Sax
Tim Paul Weiner: Bass
Jon Simmons: Trombone
Perry Bakalos: Guitar
Matt Steinberg: Drums
Steve Lamb: Guitar
Michael Maleson: Trumpet
Andy Cormier: Trumpet
Alice Iu: Vocals
Anita Coelho: Vocals
Anwar Maghreb (Morocco) - Lead Vocals
Regie Gibson(USA) - Slam Poesy, Lead Vocals
Jon Simmons (USA) - Trombone, Vocals
Nadjim Kebir (Algeria) - Drum, Vocals
Tim Paul Weiner (USA) - Bass, Vocals
Boujemaa Razgui (Morocco) - Percussions, Ney, Vocals
Perry Bakalos(USA) - Guitar, Vocals
Jacques Pardo (France) - Sax, Guitar, Vocals
Atlas Soul, at whose heart is its sax player, Jacques Pardo, who also writes and arranges the music, has, as its ethos, World Music for World Peace. What can this mean? It can mean intention. If there is no hope or conviction that something is possible, then no steps can be taken along that path. It can mean the joy that comes from encouraging us towards hope and conviction. It can mean turning away from death towards life. You will sense all of this in the vibrancy, joy and passion of Atlas Soul’s 2008 CD release, Maktoub. And our capacity to sense all of this, is a recognition based on our connectedness, as well as an actual or intuitive knowing of the music itself.
We have a history of reaching out to each other through our music. Think of that great trade route, the Silk Road – what a conduit for the music of different cultures. Think of invasion and migration and the coming together, willingly or no, of different cultures and their music.Think of the slaves brought from Africa to America – would our Western culture ever have had its blues, its jazz and, in due course, its swing, as early as it did?
All this is at the heart of Atlas Soul. The musicians come from or have lived in Morocco, France, Israel and have eventually joined their home-grown American counterparts. The lyrics are in English, North African Arabic (Maghrebi) and French.
Track 1: AnaWeyak: “Me and You”. What better title to begin this CD. The opening bars are a sax solo from Jacques and my jazz-trained ears thought that I was in for some great jazz. Wrong. I was in for some great Middle Eastern music, indeed, so attuned to that genre that I was immediatelyreminded of the singing of Hakim, ‘The Lion of Egypt’ as I listened to the vocal skills of Atlas Soul’s Anwar Souini who, when performing, is Anwar Maghreb.
Track 2: l’Amour en banlieue "love in the suburb": “this is such an old story … the yearning for love” The music is, once more, derived from the Maghreb – but just get Jacques’ hip-hop alternating with Nadwa Al Rifai’s Arabic. Here, too, Walid Zairi’s oud is clearly heard. Connections? You bet! There is no paradox in the lyrics being about the yearning for love, the lack of connection. We can all connect with that.
Track 3: Home, a song about homesickness and the sense of isolation that comes from being in a strange place. This time, a Raï & Jazz background to Anwar’s vocals. How about that for conections. We are also treated with a emotionally charged yiolin solo played by a French/American guest musician named Lucas Lejeune.
Track 4: Mahmouma: This time, Anwar Maghreb's vocals (“the world is a sad place, but let us get up and enjoy our time together") and are backed by a Reggae beat. One unexpectedly delightful moment after the other.
Track 5: Kouyoumanass. “Let’s get up!” Think Jamaica, New Orleans, North Africa, mainstream jazz. Take a large spoon. Stir. Add powerful 6/8 shaabi rhythm. See if you can resist getting up and dancing with whomever is nearby.
Track 6: Maktoub the title track, literally, “It is written”, destiny. Funky music from the group. Anwar’s vocals. Then, just over a minute into the music, and a wistful, yearning trombone from Jon Simmons, then back to the driving rhythms and then back comes the trombone, picking up the pulse. It’s a coming together. Which is what the CD is all about
Mediterranean melodies and more. The melting together of various ethnic musical styles is not just a theory or practice for Atlas Soul, the members themselves are literally from all kinds of different countries and backgrounds. The group came together in Boston and it is where they make their homebase. Atlas Soul are: Jacques Pardo (France, Israel): guitar, sax, vocals, Angela Rossi (Italy): vocals, Walid Zairi (Tunisia): electric bass, Oud, percussions, Lucas Leto (USA): drum set, percussions, Jon Simmons (USA): trombone, percussions, Nadwa Al Rifai (Lebanon): vocals. Alan Perez (Cuba): vocals, percussions. Anwar Souini (Morocco): vocals, percussions.Atlas Soul is an award-winning band performing original music that celebrates Afro-Mediterranean culture and rhythm heavily spiced with Jazz and Funk. On their 3rd CD, "Mabrouka" they continue their genre-busting music. On "Angelo Mio" the melody and mood is slow and sultry with a moody trombone floating around the vocal but then the Chorus suddenly features a Drum n' Bass-type drumbeat while everything else remains in the original slow groove. Other tunes such as "Sarah's Groove" and "Sole" and more hard-driving Funk with heavily syncopated rhythms and extended improvisational jams that would not sound out of place at an outdoor Jamband festival. "Quiereme y veras" displays the Oud and Nylon-stringed guitars truly evoking a Mediterranean landscape and all that it entails. In addition to songs being sung in a languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew and English, Atlas Soul as lo espousing a political mind set. The lyrics speak of love, natural wonders, oppression, poverty, and of the melancholy of immigrants longing for their homelands. Their motto is world-music-for-world-peace.- World Rhythm Webzine/ P.R. Brimstone -
It's a rare joy to find an album that can be wholeheartedly recommended to fans of every type of music, and I'm thrilled with Atlas Soul's Chamsa. They've got it all: James Brown/Fela Kuti-style funk workouts, a multitude of Latin rhythms and percussion, catchy hooks and vocal melodies, and some smokin' soloists in Lotfi Tiken (guitar/vox.) and Jacques Pardo (sax/vox.). There's just short of a million guest players in addition to the group's six core members, but the sound is never cluttered, no one ever plays a superfluous note, and the groove is never lost. The whole affair reminds me of a wacky foreign Steely Dan or Los Amigos Invisibles and the Buena Vista Social Club jamming with Baba Maal and Orchestra Baobab. The liner notes explain it best: "Atlas Soul music incorporates many genres: Moroccan Rai, Shaabi, West African Hilife, Socca, Reggae, Samba, Jazz, Funk, and Rock. It might sound a bit ambitious but it comes to us very naturally. Our goal is to transcend over the genres, styles and music trends and to communicate to you-the listener-the passions, emotions, and fun that we share while composing and playing it." - Michael Baldino, YourSound.com, Inc. (c)2001, Michael Baldino