Their ECM debut, released in 2009, won awards including the Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the album of the year prize of the German record critics. Now Siwan, the international collective led by Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke, is back, rallying its powerful instrumental forces behind a new lead singer, Mona Boutchebak from Algeria. Perceived correspondences between Arabic music, Andalusian classical music and European baroque music fired Jon Balke’s imagination when he started this project a decade ago.
To bring these sound worlds closer together he set poetry of Al Andalus, reflecting upon a period of coexistence between adherents of the three great religions. But Siwan does not set out to be an “historical” project: it’s a contemporary creation, delivered by an alliance of strongly individual players, fronted by a vocalist deeply rooted in Arab music traditions.
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