It is a rare find but some music does transport you away from everyday reality into something far more ethereal. That happens whenever the Hadouk Trio is allowed to fill the air. Hadouk as a word is a made up of hajouj, an African bass and dodouk, the indigenous Armenian Apricot-wood oboe. The trio is formed by Loy Ehrlich and Didier Malherbe who are here joined by Steve Shehan. This combination of multi-instrumentalists playing hajouj, kora, sanza, various percussion instruments and objects trouveé, doudouk, flutes, clarinets and saxes really know how to get the listener into ecstasy.
This double album is a live recording cut at Studio 105 of Radio France. As with many recordings made for radio broadcasting, the quality is more then excellent. No funny tricks or dubs, just a technician with ears on his head.
Didier Malherbe, a Parisian, got his nickname Bloomdido Bad de Gras inspired by Charlie Parker's tune when he joined the cult psychedelic group Gong in 1968 together with ex-Soft Machine Daevid Allen. Gong produced some legendary albums of which many only could be appreciated with one's head in a cloud of smoke. After Gong, Malherbe turned back to his Jazz roots and while traveling the world, picked up more and more music from the regions he visited. An extensive collection of instruments are the physical evidence of his travels. The new music and instruments Malherbe discovered led to a handful of solo albums, each an adventure in itself. Since 1995, he has played regularly with Loy Ehrlich. Ehrlich himself is a keyboard player with a love for stringed African instruments and a perfect match to Malherbe. Their music becomes a definitive trip to elsewhere, with melodies flowing organically from tone to tone without getting loungy or post-modern DJ-ish.
The Hadouk duo of Ehrlich and Malherbe is now joined by Steve Shehan, another real life musical adventurer. He travels the world in search for new musical ideas and treasures. Here three extraordinary musical adventurers are together on one stage and recorded. The two CDs contain 15 cuts. The opening track sets the pace for the rest. A deep warm steady keyboard drone forms the background upon which the hajouj lays it distinctive bass notes. Then the doudouk of Malherbe begins a simple but intriguing melody. Each instrument is on opposing sides of the soundstage, with the center soon filled by Shehan's percussion varying from light shakers to glass-shattering deep drum whacks. And on goes the melody, the duduk's typical timbre now smooth and soothing, then sharp. Over and over the cyclical melody returns to the beginning, yet always slightly modulated. The effect is what a snake must feel when being charmed.