Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dhafer Youssef

Walker Art Center, 9/27/07: The first event in the Walker's New World Jazz mini-series was exquisite. Tunisian-born composer, singer, and oud player Dhafer Youssef led five other musicians (Todd Reynolds, violin; Daisy Jopling, violin; Caleb Burhans, viola; Mark Helias, double bass; Satoshi Takeishi, drums/percussion) in a concert I hoped would never end.

Dressed in white, head shaved, the 40-year-old Youssef was radiant and charismatic; his voice gave me goosebumps. To get a taste of it, go to the iTunes store, search for Dhafer Youssef, then click on these songs for 30-second snippets: "Man of Wool," "Tarannoum," "A Kind of Love," "Yabay."

This was Youssef's first appearance in the US performing his own music. It was also the first time this particular group had performed together in public. If Youssef hadn't told us that, we wouldn't have known; they seemed comfortable together, and joyous.

Was it jazz? Was it New World Jazz? It was powerful, seductive, and enormously entertaining.

Photo (C) Jessica Chaney & Vincent Knapp from Dhafer Youssef's Web site.

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