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Joachim Kühn, Majid Bekkas with Ramon Lopez: Kalimba

By titling their album Kalimba, pianist Joachim Kühn (born in Germany, current residence: the Mediterranean party island of Ibiza), Moroccan instrumentalist/vocalist Majid Bekkas and Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez declare straight up that it represents a handshake among neighbors. The kalimba, an African-originated thumb piano, is one of three instruments played by Bekkas here, and although it actually sees less action than his oud or guembri, both Moroccan variations of the lute, it’s a fitting image for the trio’s cross-cultural cruise. Kalimba is where flamenco bravado, traditional Gnawa blues and European jazz daring collide, and for both Kühn and Bekkas, it’s a logical next step: Bekkas played with another German, saxophonist Klaus Doldinger, on 2006’s Passport to Morocco, while 45-year veteran Kühn mixed it up last year with the Lebanese oud master Rabih Abou-Khalil on the latter’s Journey to the Centre of an Egg.

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