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Elina Duni — Partir (April 27, 2018)

Elina Duni — Partir (April 27, 2018)

                       Elina Duni — Partir (April 27, 2018)   Elina Duni — Partir (April 27, 2018)•★•√     Expatriate Albanian vocalist and arranger who melds the music of her native country with jazz and blues.
•★•√     Songs of love, loss and leaving. After two highly acclaimed albums with her jazz quartet, Elina Duni issues her most intimate recording to date.  The entirely solo Partir features the Tirana~born vocalist,  accompanied by her own piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting songs from very diverse sources.  From folk songs and chansons to songs of singer~songwriters. Here we find traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab~Andalusia as well as  Jacques Brel’s “Je ne sais pas”, Alain Oulman’s  “Meu Amor”,  Domenico Modugno’s “Amara Terra Mia”, Elina’s own “Let Us Dive In” and more. Duni’s uniquely~expressive voice and pared~down arrangements locate a common thread of longing that runs through the material. Partir was recorded at Studios La Buissone in the South of France in July 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.
Location: Tirana, Albania ~ Switzerland 
Album release: April 27, 2018
Record Label: Deutsche Grammophon ECM
Duration:     47:44    
Tracks:    
01 Amara Terra Mia     4:18  
02 Let Us Dive In     4:44  
03 Meu Amor     4:28  
04 Lamma Bada Yatathanna     4:17  
05 Vishnja     4:07  
06 Lusnak Gisher     2:46  
07 Oyfn Veg     6:20  
08 Kanga E Kurbetit     3:28  
09 Ani Kaj Lulije     2:19  
10 Vaj Si Kenka     3:40  
11 Je ne sais pas     4:21  
12 Schönster Abestärn     2:56
≡•≡    Text, music, arrangements and interpretations of traditional songs by Elina Duni.
We are all departing in one way or another, bound to be torn away from what we love, and this is the point of origin of this particular creation. Throughout the course of “Partir” (nine sketches accompanied by songs in nine different languages), we travel through the deepest abysses of pain, with the heart rough like a desert, to finally arrive at the ultimate refuge, that is, joy. It is through her voice, accompanied in turns by guitar, piano and percussion, that this journey is able to become both singular and universal.
Performer:
≡•≡    Elina Duni:   Voice, Piano, Guitar, Percussion
Similar albums: Sidsel Endresen / Stian Westerhus — Bonita; A Hawk and a Hacksaw — Délivrance.
Written by:
•     (Domenico Modugno)     1
•     (Elina Duni)     2
•     (Alain Oulman)     3
•     (Muhammad Abd al Rahim al Maslub)     4
•     (Traditional Kosovo)     5, 8
•     (Traditional Armenia)     6
•     (Philip Laskowsky)     7
•     (Traditional Albanians from Macedonia)     9
•     (Traditional Albania)     10
•     (Jacques Brel)     11
•     (Traditional Switzerland)     12
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ****
•★•√     Personal circumstances underscore Elina Duni’s fifth album and third for ECM. Unlike its predecessors, Partir finds the Albanian~Swiss singer~songwriter going it alone for the first time, apart — perhaps permanently — from her quartet due to the ending of a long-term relationship. In charting a new course, Duni accompanies herself on guitar, piano, and percussion, embracing these 12 songs in nine languages about love, loss, and leaving. It’s a departure from the Albanian~only songs that governed her two previous outings and instead reflects the tenor of her solo concerts. In the short epigraph she provides in the liner notes to Partir, Duni writes, even before a word has been sung: “We are all departing, bound to be torn away, one day or another, from what we love.”
•★•√     She sets the stage in opener “Amara Terra Mia,” an Italian waltz by 20th century icon Domenico Modugno and lyricist Enrica Bonaccorti. Duni’s alternately strummed and fingerpicked guitar holds space for her vocal: “Endless skies and faces like stone/Calloused hands now hopeless. Goodbye, goodbye my love, I am leaving/Bitter land of mine, bitter and beautiful…” She follows it with her own “Let Us Dive In,” a lilting ballad performed on piano where she portrays loss as a shared burden: “Let me look at you my love/As we dive under and above our ‘whys’/It’s been good til here/We made it through til here….” Even more powerful is the 19th century Egyptian song “Lamma Bada Yatathanna,” by poet and musician Muhammad Abd al Rahim al Masloub. Duni plays a frame drum known as a daf. Her protagonist has been struck by a beauty so profound she is left confounded, desolate: “Who will alleviate my suffering of love and torment/except the King of Beauty…Mercy, mercy, mercy.” She examines her themes in familial expressions, too, as in the Yiddish folk song “Oyfn Weg” and “Vishnja,” a traditional song from Kosovo, about the bond that exists between mother and daughter. Both are leaving songs, but in the former, the leaving child may or may not be speaking from beyond the pale. In “Kanga e Kurbetit,” another song from Kosovo, she sings as a mother and bereft lover raising a son alone. Its time frame spans more than 20 years. As it develops, her sense of loss deepens, not dissipates, as she alternates carving and cleaving meaning from her life. The totality of separation experienced through exile is rendered as ravaged beauty in her reading of Jacques Brel’s “Je Nai Sais Pas.”
•★•√     In the music made with her quartet, Duni consistently blurred lines between jazz, folk, poetry, chanson, and other traditions. In performing solo, these already thin lines vanish; they’re replaced by the intimate, authoritative weight of her voice writing a mapped, annotated language that juxtaposes tender abundance (the past) with the raw experience of lack (the present). On Partir, Duni enters the realm of the profound: Her voice does not hold within it the grain of separation, but is instead that grain personified.   •★•√     https://www.allmusic.com/
Label: https://www.ecmrecords.com/
Website: http://elinaduni.com/
BACKGROUND
•★•√     After two highly ECM acclaimed albums — Matanë Malit and Dallëndyshe — with her quartet, Elina Duni issues her most intimate recording to date. On this entirely solo album, the Tirana~born vocalist accompanies herself on piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting songs from very diverse sources — from folk songs and chansons to singer~songwriter ballads. Here we find traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab~Andalusia as well as Jacques Brel’s “Je ne sais pas”, Alain Oulman’s “Meu Amor”, Domenico Modugno’s “Amara Terra Mia”, Elina’s own “Let Us Dive In” and more. Twelve songs altogether, sung in nine languages: Albanian, German, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Armenian, Yiddish and Arabic. Elina Duni’s uniquely~expressive voice and her pared~down arrangements locate a common thread of longing that runs through the material, as Partir brings together songs of love, loss and leaving, songs of the pain of separation and the courage to seek new beginnings.
•★•√     Several factors converged to shape and influence the project. On a personal level, the break~up of a long~established relationship had left a cloud of uncertainty over the future of Duni’s quartet. “Would we continue, or wouldn’t we? We decided to take a longer pause. At the time it felt like the end of a big musical project, and I had to find another way to go on.”
•★•√     One possibility was implied in contributions Duni had been making over the last decade to readings by her mother, the novelist, poet and essayist Besa Myftiu. “We started doing this together in 2008. She would read from her books, and in between I would play songs, usually with guitar and percussion. And through this I gradually started to develop a solo repertoire”. When Duni began to play full solo concerts, she linked the songs with her own texts; these were written originally in French, and affected by the burgeoning refugee crisis which had made the singer reflect upon the meaning of exile in her own biography.
•★•√     In performance, the songs have been presented “in the context of a ‘confession’, inspired by the texts of the songs and by stories I’d made up to emphasize that any of us can, through circumstances we can’t control, find ourselves in a situation where we’re torn away from places and people we care about. And this should, in my opinion, make us feel more solidarity with those who are forced to leave, more solidarity with each other generally. Putting that message across, the solo concerts started to feel like they were about more than just music.”
•★•√     Elina Duni likens the experience of working on solo music, after many years of collaboration, to “withdrawing in a monastery. It’s a metaphysical experience, really, and you start to find out more about your inner resources.” Her almost minimalistic accompaniments on piano and guitar serve the essence of the songs, and her voice, an extremely flexible and subtle instrument, has never sounded better — as is immediately apparent from the beautiful album opener “Amara Terra Mia”. “Lamma Bada Yatathanna” — where the only accompaniment is the diffuse throb of the daf, the frame drum of the Middle East — is another very touching piece, giving full rein to the sinuousness of the Duni voice. The range of expression here is striking. Hear Elina singing “Je ne sais pas”, for instance, and you might well wish for a whole album of Brel interpretations from her. Each song seems to open up another avenue of possibility. In any case, radio programmers will have, with Partir, a broad palette to draw from.
•★•√     How did she select the songs? “I wanted to move away a little from the Albanian~only focus of the last few records, because I’ve always also enjoyed communicating in many languages.”
•★•√     The songs came from many places. Some I’ve known for years, some were from other projects — the Armenian song ‘Lusnak Gisher’ came via a theatre production I was involved with. The Arab song ‘Lamma Bada Yatathanna’ was one I knew and liked, and I wanted to sing it, not for political reasons, exactly, but to make a statement. The Yiddish song ‘Ofyn Weg’ was another one I knew and loved. And so on. And then the question was: how can I use the songs to tell a larger story? The idea to sing in nine languages was a decisive one — also, again, to stress the universality of the theme, about leaving, about facing the unknown, and the will to continue.”
•★•√     Partir was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in July 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The album is launched with an international solo tour. Concert dates include the Jazz à Carthage Festival in Tunis, Tunisia (April 9), Stanser Musiktage, Stans, Switzerland (April 14), Cully Jazz Festival (April 21), Fabriggli, Buchs, Switzerland (April 26), Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris (May 3), Espace Senghor, Brussels, Belgium (May 4), Moods, Zürich, Switzerland (May 11), Bee~Flat, Berne, Switzerland (May 23), Jazz à Viennes Festival, France (July 6).
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Elina Duni — Partir (April 27, 2018)

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