“Sadness for a bird killed. No sadness for a fish killed. Lucky are the ones with voices.” -Saitō Ryokuu
This saying by Ryokuu served as inspiration for Lebanese pianist Jad Salameh’s debut album ‘Lucky Are The Ones With Voices’. Salameh, born in Beirut in 1985, had to leave his war-torn homeland at a young age to seek refuge in Montreal, Canada. There, he studied molecular biology before discovering jazz at the late age of 20. Now living in Paris, Salameh is on a quest to find his voice as a jazz artist while staying true to his Lebanese background. As he likes to say “Grow where your roots are.” The music, at times inspired by prodigies Yaron Herman, Tigran Hamasyan and Ibrahim Maalouf, nonetheless has a distinct and unique quality to it, in part through the use of microtones, common in arabic music, by American vocalist Jennifer Grout.
For this project, Salameh decided to opt for a quartet composed of Henry Grillot on guitar, Arthur Henn on upright and Baptiste de Chabaneix on drums, with the aforementioned Grout on a select number of tracks. Let’s note the particularly stellar performances given by both Henn on bass and Grout on vocals which truly make this album shine. All in all, this is an inspiring, introspective and very solid debut by the young pianist who is already working on his second opus. Make sure to check out the album EPK as well as a video clip for one of the tracks after the jump. If you like what you hear, you can buy the album on Salameh’s website.