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   Masaa: Outspoken: Release Information

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Release Date: 12.05.2017
EAN/UPC: 705304464724
TT Catalogue No: 4647

Masaa - Outspoken

Outspoken: direct, straightforward, upfront. That is how the new and third album of Masaa sounds. Three years have passed since the release of the CD Afkar. Concert tours in Rabih Lahoud’s former home Lebanon and also to Jordan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have inspired the award-winning band and made them grow together. Masaa’s characteristic combination of individual influences sounds more lively, spirited and natural now. While Afkar was an impressive snapshot of a search in progress, Outspoken documents the powerful result of a patient and focused development. Masaa artfully interweave Arabic melodies with variable, sometimes prancing rhythms, a piano changing between Classical influences and jazz, and multicolored trumpet modulations. Furthermore, Lahoud’s characteristic singing sounds fuller in all ranges and more confident than ever.

It is unity through diversity, which Masaa creates harmoniously and atmospherically dense on Outspoken. The topic currently dominates the societal dialog and in addition has a very personal significance to Rabih Lahoud. Born in 1982 as the child of catholic Maronites in Lebanon, Lahoud began early to question the omnipresent postulation that one should have to choose a side. To this day he rebels against black and white rules, with which he was not only confronted in the Near East, but also during his studies in Düsseldorf. Fortunately Lahoud always finds like-minded people who look beyond the horizon of their world. Like the trumpeter Markus Stockhausen, whom Lahoud met in 2008 and who encouraged him to engage himself in the musical tradition of his native land. From Germany Lahoud developed a new perspective of the rich Arabic culture and at the same the idea to form Masaa emerged. Trumpeter Markus Rust already had a band with his fellow students in Dresden, Clemens Pötzsch and Demian Kappenstein; that the trio’s and Lahoud’s paths crossed was thanks to Stockhausen once again. It has long been clear, that East and West get along well musically when freethinkers approach each other from both directions and create something new. Improvisations play a substantial role in jazz and Arabic art music alike. On Outspoken Masaa achieve touching expressive power and impressive wholeness in their improvisations. Outspoken doesn’t only appear more rounded and forceful, but also more distinct; on the one hand more compact and less playful, but then again the quartet expands its stylistic range and its sound.

Masaa is the Arabic word for evening. In many countries of the world neighbors and friends meet after sundown to share experiences of their day, to tell each other things, to communicate. This nearly universal image deeply moves the four musicians. It is reflected in Masaa’s musical approach and in Rabih Lahoud’s metaphorical, at times suggestive poetry. He is not an author who ponders at length about the phrasing of a certain message. His words much rather follow spontaneous inspiration, a kind of flow of consciousness that is sometimes triggered by the music of his partners. At times things need to just come out, and then fast, Lahoud says. Whatever moves him goes down on paper and in some circumstances he sings it into the microphone a moment later, doing without any encoding. So it is hardly surprising that Lahoud addresses things to shake up boundaries and initiate change. He now does this in Arabic, French, English and even German. In the past 15 years he got to know many different styles and today looks upon both cultures and no longer has any qualms about risking new conjunctions. An exciting encounter - that shall not remain the last of its kind - was Masaa’s cooperation with the Israeli singer/songwriter und activist Yael Deckelbaum. In 2015/16 they performed nine concerts together, among them a show in grand scenery at the Rudolstadt Festival. In pieces they played together Deckelbaum and Lahoud occasionally swapped their languages and there is the song “Who We Are” that was jointly recorded in Berlin and can be heard online. Demian Kappenstein brought Yael Deckelbaum and Masaa together, after having played a tour with her in Israel.

Artistic creativity and political awareness ideally join in a way that they have relevant impact beyond day-to-day events. Not only in times of rampant seclusion, Masaa’s Outspoken is worth listening to and worth noting: a touching plea for openness and understanding, a sonorous manifest for border transcending powers of imagination.

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