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Hellborg: Aram of the Two Rivers

Jonas Hellborg has spent much of his career exploring the world’s music from the standpoint of synthesis-not electronic synthesis, but conceptual. His signature acoustic bass guitar sound came to prominence with John McLaughlin, whose East-West/inside-outside approach to fusion helped define the genre. Here, we hear Hellborg in performances in Damascus and Aleppo, working with Syrian musicians and giving Western ears a workout in the process. The intriguing sonorities of Nased Sri al Deen’s ney, the flute of the region, blend with Hellborg’s bass and Hadi Backdonas’ violin over the rhythmic density of Nabil Khaiat’s riqq, and the derbukas of Tarek Malas and Mahfouz al Hosaini. Hellborg’s collaborative structures balance composition and improvisation in evocative modal frames that complement his wide range of techniques: his slapping in the acoustic realm is particularly apposite.

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