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Anouar Brahem is undoubtedly the most adventurous North-African exponent of the stringed instrument the oud. Although he studied classical Arabic music he has been concentrating on jazz since 1990. In that year, the ever-alert Manfred Eicher signed him for ECM. Brahem recorded Madar with Jan Garbarek in 1994 and this marked his breakthrough to a wider audience. His own breakthrough album Thimar was recorded with John Surman and Dave Holland. On his albums Voyage du Sahar and Pays du chat noir, Brahem's sound leans towards chamber music. On The Astounding Eyes of Rita that was released last year, Brahem works with a lineup of electric bass, bass clarinet and a darbuka, an Arab hand drum. Although Brahem himself refers to the atmosphere of his recent work as Arabic, he once again chose for jazz musicians to be able to improvise more easily. The sound is darker than on his previous albums but still combines East and West in an exciting way.