This still certainly rates as jazz, but just as much it gives the impression of a visit to... --well, uh, a cafe in Astrakan. Especially atmospheric is the clarinet play of sideman Barbaros Erkose, which produces just the right emphasis of exotica to complement Brahem's virtuostic oud play (is there a greater student of this instrument now recording?) and the unobtrusive backing percussion (bendir and darbouka). This is a tuneful but rather laid back kind of jazz, occasionally giving itself over to flashes of brilliant play. It sounds more than just a bit mysterious, but it is a naked mystery. Stripped of the kind of mood cliches one often hears in the soundtracks to bad films about Arabic lands, this music reveals some of the emotional secrecies that can be found at the heart of the cultures it strives to portray.