MUSTAPHA SKANDRANI- MODE: RAMI MAYA / MODE: RAMI MAYA IMPROVISATION
ISTIKHBARS & IMPROVISATIONS (EM, 1965)
A lovely, seemingly out-of-nowhere reissue of this record was released by EM earlier this year—which maybe shouldn’t be surprising as that label has made such rediscoveries its stock and trade. I bought this purely based off of the sound samples I had heard and while it’s outside of my usual purview, I find the cultural push and pull of the album to be really rewarding. As outlined by EM:
“Istikhbars and Improvisations, recorded in 1965 in Paris, is a solo piano album presenting a trans-Mediterranean crossover based on traditional Algerian vocal pieces known as Istikhbars. Playing these istikhbars (which have roots in the Islamic Arabo-Andalusian culture which flourished in Spain) on the piano, that quintessentially European instrument, Skandrani was greeted with derision by some purists. Skandrani’s powerful musical vision, however, perceives the European element involved in Arabo-Andalusian musical culture, a world of exchange and co-existence, and his decision to play this music on the piano reminds us of this European influence.”
Streaming above are the first two tracks on the LP; the first part is the traditional mode, the second the improvisation based on that mode. Excellent home listening.