"Descarga Oriental" - Maurice El Médioni
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- Artist:Maurice El Médioni
- featured artist:Roberto Rodriguez
- release year:2006
- catalogue numberPIR2003
- audio file
Froots and Songlines pick for "Best albums of 2006"!
Winner of the BBC Radio 3 Award Culture Crossing !
Maurice El Medioni has spent his whole life ignoring boundaries. The Algerian Jew started out playing French popular songs by ear on piano as a kid before learning boogie-woogie and Latin music from US soldiers during World War II, and introducing the keyboard to Algerian Rai -- just a tiny range, then. With Descarga Oriental, he brings together all the strands of that long career in high style, mixing it up with Cuban percussionist Roberto Rodriguez and a top-notch band of NY-based Latin musicians.
Highlighting the rumba roots of Raï , full to the brim with El Médioni improvisations and afro-oriental-latin grooves and all making perfect sense this specially commissioned PIRANHA release, recorded in New York, is an instant classic. Oye!
"Rodriguez sets up a throbbing backdrop for El-Medioni's busy plinking and Oscar Onoz's rasping Latin trumpet, their light interplay turning serious over the kicking rhythms of Mais je t'aime toujours. Rolling together boogie-woogie flourishes and Arab-Andalusian ornamentations, EI-Medioni is like a North African Ruben Gonzalez. He isn't a great singer, but his world-weary tones are perfect for this louche evocation of a vanished world."Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph, 04-03-2006
"LOOKING like a retired bank-manager in his black suit and tie, Maurice el Medioni is an unlikely piano legend. But once he launched into his Bienvenue welcome song and the balance of piano over drum kit, bass and Arabic darbuka drum was sorted, Medioni showed his prowess with his light-fingered melodies flowered with delicate ornaments and grace notes."Robin Denselow, Evening Standard, 13-3-2006
""Charlie Gillett applauds the evergreen Algerian pianist who, in his eighth decade, is at the peak of his creative powers.[…] If ever a man was born to play music, here he is. I'm sure that if you squeezed him, notes would pour from every pore, each one a delight. […]Observer Music Monthly, April 2006
Ry Cooder, the catalyst for those World Circuit albums men-tined earlier, believes that a good musician gets better as he or she gets older. Here's the evidence.
"What a blindingly obvious idea, in retrospect. El Médioni, the sprightly 77-year-old Algerian Jewish exile (probably the sole exponent of the Arab-Latin-jazz hybrid he terms ‘oriental piano’) forged his style under the influence of black and Puerto-Rican GIs in the nightspots of 40s Oran. Here he is teamed up with a Latin band. Simple. But who would have guessed it would turn out to be this good?Phillip Sweeney, Songlines, March 2006
El Médioni’s rippling oriental keyboard riffs rise to the occasion so buoyantly and gracefully that he sounds at times like a North African Eddie Palmieri. That thick, measured New York Latin bass, so different from any bass El Médioni has previously recorded with, is perfect. The richly syncopated percussion – totally distinct from El Médioni’s usual straight ahead darbuka and drum kit – is subtle and powerful.
"They cook up a transatlantic plenitude of moros, judios y cristianos with subtle Sephardic seasoning, sizzling in the present while also invoking the utopian society of Moorish Andalusia that, if it lives on only in the imagination, flows here as a wellspring of artistic inspiration."Michael Stone, rootsworld.com, 05/25/06