By George Harris JazzWeekly
Traditional Middle Eastern Arabic sounds with a dash of Western thought are delivered by the quartet of vocalist Maryem Tollar on table harp and tambourine, Ernie Tollar on sax and Arabic woodwinds, oud maestro Demetri Petsalakis and percussionist Nahmeh Farahmand. Almost all of the tunes are composed by the Tollar dueo, with the sounds of flute and percussion and strings on pieces like “The Dream” and “You And I” taking you to excursions of Cairo and Luxor. Ms. Tollar’s voice is rich, earthy and attractively nasal in both Arabic and on the English “Full Moon Prayer” with dreamy oud supplied by Petsalakis. Majd Sukar’s clarinet and Alfred Gamil on violin add a more folk spirit to pieces such as “Wanderer,” the chirpy “Beloved Mother” and title track. A musical trip through Talaat Harb.
Melding sounds from Southern Asia as well as Western jazz, the team Dream Shanti give pastoral themes of world wide expanse. Jeff Coffin plays just about every type of reed and woodwind, with percussion from East and West supplied by Subrata Bhattacharya, Carter Beuford, Roy Wooten and Jordan Person along wih sitar and zitar from Indrajit Banerjee, bass supplied by Sefan Lessard, piano and key from Chirs Walters and Ryoko Suzuki guesting on harmonium.
The mix of tablas, American pulse and sitar jam well together on “Joy” with plenty of reeds meld to the tite track. Danceable pulses, flutes and swinging “Live In 5” sound like they were made for a Bollywood soundtrack, while the team gets funky with Coffin’s sax teaming with konnakol on “Take It To The Bridge.” The Crusaders take a trip to India on the soul-fested “Sandhya Deep” with more traditional feel on “Dancing With The Moon.” As tangy as a salt Lassy.