Le pas du chat noir

Anouar Brahem

Hypnotic, magnetic new album by Anouar Brahem which adds a new dimension to our knowledge of this exceptional Tunisian musician. "Le pas du chat noir" gives the clearest indication yet of the work of Brahem as composer and features a spacious "chamber music" that resonates with the freshness of improvisation. The instrumentation is unique: oud, piano, accordion. Brahem’s writing for this combination is highly evocative, meticulously controlled and sparse. Half of the magic, as he notes, resides in the not-played, in the marvellous mingling of overtones, sounds that rise from the piano to blend with the warm tones of the oud and the breath of the accordion’s bellows.

Featured Artists Recorded

July 2001, Radio Studio DRS, Zürich

Original Release Date


  • 1Le pas du chat noir
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 2De tout ton cœur
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 3Leila au pays du carrousel
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 4Pique-nique à Nagpur
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 5C'est ailleurs
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 6Toi qui sais
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 7L'arbre qui voit
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 8Un point bleu
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 9Les ailes du Bourak
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 10Rue du départ
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 11Leila au pays du carrousel, var.
    (Anouar Brahem)
  • 12Déjà la nuit
    (Anouar Brahem)
A record of astonishing harmonic richness, Le pas du chat noir attests to Brahem's unexpected devotion to the piano as a compositional tool and forces some retrospective recognition of how classically pianistic a lot of his music has been down the years. The oud here takes its place in a rich and constantly shifting context, with the two keyed instruments creating contrasting textures and environments for Brahem's gorgeous melody lines. ... This is a consistently rewarding and very surprising record. Ask me a year from now and I'll be finding new things in it.
Brian Morton, Jazzreview
The album is at once an extension and an audacious departure from the tradition of the oud. Despite his formidable knowledge of the maqarnat, an ornate system of modes that anchors Arabic music, he seldom bases his improvisations directly on the maqams. His phrasing is pure and uncluttered, expressing itself through silence nearly as often as sound. ...Composed of elegantly flowing lines and somber, breathlike silences, the music shimmers with the overtones of the piano. ... Mr. Brahem bases several of the tunes on spare, broken chords, repeated in the childlike manner of Satie. Simple though they are, however, they contain beguiling Arabesques. The three musicians rarely appear at once, performing as a trio on only seven of the album's 12 tracks. For the most part, you hear duets - piano and oud, oud and accordion, accordion and oud. The musicians often double each other's lines, but seldom in unison, which enhances the music's intimacy while producing a floating, echo effect.If every band projects "an image of coummunity," as the critic Greil Marcus once suggested, then Mr. Brahem's trio - part takht, part jazz trio, part chamber ensemble - evokes a kind of 21st century Andalusia, in which European and Arab sensibilities have merged so profoundly that the borders between them have dissolved. The image may be utopian, but its beauty is undeniable.
Adam Shatz, The New York Times
The album is like a sad rhapsody, full of shadowy mirages and blue echoes, the prevailing melancholy not dour and heavy but rather light and cloudy. Names like Satie, Debussy, Mounir Bachir, even Eno in acoustic mode keep flashing across your mental screen as you listen. This is academy music with no clothes on, naked and awkward, honest and beautiful. Shut your eyes and you could be in the port of Dar el Baida, a seagull swooping over a grey-blue sea and huge cranes and rusty hulled freighters in the background, the light and forgetful breeze brushing your cheek. Le pas du chat noir features uncontrived performances of cat-like agility - soft, bright-eyed and magical. It is a brilliant piece of work.
Andy Morgan, Songlines
Who would have thought that the supremely subtle oud could be featured on a recording with piano, that most dominantly Western of instruments' Meticulously arranged and ideally, gorgeously recorded, Le pas du chat noir features Tunisian oud virtuoso/composer Anouar Brahem in a fresh setting conceived at the keyboard and then realized with pianist François Couturier and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier. The result is as redolent of the French minimalism of Satie and, even more so, his Catalan successor Mompou as it is of traditional Arabic music. There is a hushed, highly concentrated quality to this Pan-Mediterranean musical "haiku", with the notes purified down to their absolute essence. The entire package-music, sound, cover design - is ECM at its best. As much as any of the label's "crossover" hits, this album brims with appeal for all who have an ear for the best in music.
Bradley Bambarger, BillBoard
Arabische, maghrebinische oder gar Weltmusik - derlei Schubladen waren für den tunesischen Oudvirtuosen Anouar Brahem von jeher zu eng. Bestes Beispiel: das Trioalbum Thimar mit John Surman und Dave Holland. Jetzt hat er mit dem französischen Pianisten François Couturier und dem Akkordeonspieler Jean-Louis Matinier ein noch weitaus ungewöhnlicher instrumentiertes Trio zusammengestellt. Die Stücke entwickelte er am Klavier. Erst viel später fand sein eigentliches Instrument, die arabische Laute Oud, ihren Platz in dieser sparsamen Kammermusik voller Stille, Poesie und atmosphärischer Nähe zu Erik Satie, in der das Akkordeon gleichsam die Rolle einer "inneren Stimme" übernimmt. Grandios.
Berthold Klostermann, Fono Forum
Diese stille, anrührende Musik lebt von wechselnden Dialogen, die arabische Gelassenheit in rhythmischer Vertracktheit mit europäischer Kammermusik von Bach bis zur Klassischen Moderne in Einklang bringen. Jean-Louis Matinier zieht die Klänge seines Akkordeons mit einer bittersüßen, vibrierenden Eleganz; Klänge, die in ihrer reduzierten Intensität wie ferne Schwingungen des innersten Wesens französischer Muzettes wirken. Dazwischen weben sich die Töne der Oud, die zart von François Couturier am Flügel aufgegriffen und mit sutiler Raffinesse verdoppelt werden. Intime Zwiegespräche entwickln sich, eine einsam schwingende Klaviersaite ruft ein Echo auf der Oud hervor, es entsteht ein Frage-und-Antwort-Spiel von geradezu hypnotischer Kraft.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay
Dramatiques, sereines, légères, profondes... Il est difficile de qualifier les atmosphères qui s'en dégagent. En un mot, voilà une musique pleine, qui n'a pas peur du vide, du quasi-silence, où la note juste est conservée, sans excès de minimalisme étriqué. ... Sans jamais perdre la direction qu'il s'est choisie, ce disque réaffirme le plaisir et sa sensualité de ce musicien expert, son goût pour la formule du trio, format qu'il creuse en renouvelant constamment l'instrumentation.
Jaques Denis, Jazzman (Choc Jazzman)
2024 October 29 Jazzfestival Esslingen, Germany
2024 November 19 KKL Luzern, Switzerland