Rob Luft, a British jazz guitarist, found himself stranded in Egypt after performing at a festival in Cairo due to the pandemic. Seeking refuge, he stayed in a Bedouin fishing village called Ahab in Sinai. His third solo album on Edition, unlike many other works created during the pandemic, is not melancholic. Instead, it is a joyous tribute to the peacefulness and liveliness of nature, infused with influences from the Middle East, Africa, and other regions.
Luft, a fan of progressive rock, is a nimble guitarist who can deliver impressive solos – as showcased in the title track – but his primary strengths lie in composition and playing alongside others. He is joined by his core four-piece band and the exceptional tenor saxophonist Joe Wright. The Amika string quartet also adds depth and atmosphere to several tracks. Three covers are included in the album: a stripped-down version of Aphex Twin’s Flim, a melodic rendition of Duke Ellington’s African Flower, and an arrangement of an Arabic love song, Lamma Bada Yatathanna, where Luft displays his versatility by transitioning from an oud-like opening to channeling his inner Dave Gilmour, accompanied by the haunting trumpet of guest musician Byron Wallen.
“Sunshine Music” and “Endless Summer” titles hold their own narrative, with the former showcasing Steve Buckley’s use of the penny whistle and the latter infused with Brazilian elements. They are rich and suggestive.