Stories » Dave Soldier's 'Zajal is a super pastiche of influences and exotic sounds / The Graham Album Review

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Dave Soldier's 'Zajal is a super pastiche of influences and exotic sounds / The Graham Album Review

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The Graham Album Review
For me, musical eclecticism can be not only fascinating and innovative, but fun when seemingly incompatible influences come together, sometimes with results that can be seriously innovative, and sometimes just wacky. This week we have a super pastiche of influences that combine a number of exotic sounds in what I think is a quite entertaining way. It's by Dave Soldier, and the album is called Zajal.

Dave Soldier is a New York based musician who can definitely be described as a dilettante in the best way. He has composed and performed classical music, and leads the Soldier String Quartet. He has arranged and orchestrated music for artists like John Cale and the Nova TV series. He created albums of music with inner city elementary school students. He launched a group dedicated to "Delta punk" music with Southern African American style fife and drum music with punk influence. And he has recorded albums of music made by animals who were given a way to make sounds, including three by the Thai Elephant Orchestra, then made a recording of a human orchestra playing the sounds that the elephants played on their instruments. And he created music for Trio and Brain Waves.

So given Dave Soldier's output, Zajal may not be so far out there. Soldier asserts that the beginning of popular music, as opposed to more formal or folk music, emerged in the southern region of Spain about a thousand years ago, when the area had a rich cross-cultural mixture of Arab influence from the Moorish conquest of Spain at the time with the Andalusian caliphate, along with Hebrew, and Christian culture. The region gave birth to the guitar, and the dance that would become flamenco, and even the beginning of cowboys and their traditions. There was also a rich output of poetry from the period.

READ THE FULL George D. Graham ARTICLE & Listen to the attached audio feature