Melange's Via Maris is truly world music with a mixture of traditional and original compositions. I’m not sure I’d call it jazz, although that’s not in any way to detract from the talent of the musicians, the compositions and the improvisations.
Joined here by guests on accordion, sax and trumpet, Melange itself is a quartet of cello, oud, guitar and percussion. The whole was recorded in London but has influences from across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Cellist Shirley Smart has brought together this collective and the album is best listened to on a grey day when dance is the furthest thing from your mind, but you know you need to get up and move. It’s probably some of the most inventive use of the cello I’ve heard for some time.
There is some beautiful playing on Via Maris, especially on Halfaouine and Anosis, but the full octet playing on Sound of the Ground is a great way to end the album. Apparently named after the first band Smart joined on arrival in Jerusalem, the track is derived from Algerian classical music and shows Melange at its best as a collective
To hear the best of Smart’s cello, listen to Erotikos, which also features a lovely trumpet solo from Jake Painter and some inventive duet work with Stefanos Tsourelis’ oud.
At a time when the world could use more collaboration and less division, listen to this for the influences from around the world and remember we’re all under the same sun.
Shirley Smart – Cello
Stefanos Tsourelis – Oud
Peter Michaels – Guitar
Maurizio Minardi – Accordion
Joe Browne – Saxophones
Jake Painter – Trumpet
Michele Montolli – Bass
Demi Garcia Sabat – Drums/percussion