Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Chick Ganimian – Oud Vibrations ★★★

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Fingertips | Ahmed Abdul-Malik (oud, b), Charles “Chick” Ganimian (oud) and His Orientals Rec. date not stated

Yusuf Lateef’s 1957 album Prayer To The East is often cited as one of the first eastward investigations in jazz, but this compilation repackages two dates from the late-1950s that prove others weren’t too far behind. Ahmed AbdulMalik was a New Yorker of Sudanese descent who provided double bass for Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. But it was as a player of the lute-like oud that he dug deeper into his roots on albums like 1958’s Jazz Sahara and, represented here, 1959’s East Meets West, which tastefully collides traditional Middle Eastern and north African folk tunes with deep, modal jazz and bullish hard bop.

Charles “Chick” Ganimian was an Armenian-American oud player who brought Armenian and Turkish flavours into western music, and went on to collaborate with Herbie Mann in the 1960s. His one LP as a leader, included here, was Come With Me To The Casbah – a session with an even wider range than Abdul-Malik’s, roaming from pulsating, percussionheavy dervish jams to R&B stompers and mellow readings of classics like ‘My Funny Valentine’. Undoubtedly far-out at the time, today both these sets give off a pleasing waft of kitsch.

– Daniel Spicer