Review: Trance’n’Dancin, Oonagh Sherrard, Indie Cds, 2006

The album opens with Saba Taksim. The taksim being the opening section of a piece of music usually improvised, which introduces the mood of the piece and its tonality – in this case the scale or Makam is Saba, which Sanders describes as ‘strange and beautiful’ – an apt description. It’s a sublime, haunting and spacious start to the album – transcendental. Sanders is playing ney (Turkish flute) with a simple drone, which also sounds like a ney loop. From here we move into the main body of the piece, the composition Saba Saz Semaisa also on ney, this is dervish music from Turkey by Celebi Murad, arranged by Sanders and Kennard. Kennard joins the frey,
perhaps on daf, the Sufi’s traditional frame drum of choice. Track 3 Kimizi Gul is a steady paced introduction to the more dancey numbers, a more sensual and earthy sound. Sanders is playing a reed instrument, perhaps
aardvark, a kind of bagpipes, or mey (double reed instrument). The track remains focused on its steady pace, with wandering traditional melody arranged by Sanders and Kennard. The pace picks up again with track 4 Tamzara. Kennard gives us a very funky rhythm supporting Sanders beautiful light and playful melody on flute, sitting on a harmonium drone. The cover notes don’t give away what instruments are featured in each track, but they do share the time signatures – this one is in 9/4.

Track 5 Solitary Circumambulation is the original composition for Hammond and Gaida – Bulgarian Bagpipe, with Kennard on surdo. The gaida holds the tune throughout, with some flute doubling. I would have liked to hear the Hammond break into a solo, from its bass/rhythm ostinato. We are treated to three more taksims on the album, the next track being Kaval Taksim then Beyati Taksim both on ney and then Soporific Taksim. They are all haunting and beautiful, particularly the last. The album is a beautifully shaped journey from the spacious taksims to fast and upbeat dance tunes, such as the Arabic Ah Ya Zane or Turkish Gidemem Siraza Ben steadier grooves like Yuksek, Yuksek Teperlere, and the occasional jazz influence underlying very traditional sounding melodies in tracks like Impossible Dreams of Sonia. Closing with a magical traditional Turkish lullaby Bebek.  Sanders has spent years studying the music of Turkey and the Balkans and his passion and skill for this music are clearly evident in this superb album. If you’re interested in the music of Eastern Europe or the Middle East, you should get this album.

–  Oonagh Sherrard, 2006,  for indie-cds.com website (www.indie-cds.com)