Meeting Of Minds

6 June 2012 | 1:44 pm | Michael Smith

It’s taken a while but Moroccan-born, Melbourne-based jazz guitarist Albert Dadon – who performs as Albare – has finally recorded a truly international album. Michael Smith discovers how it came about.

Guitarist and composer Albert Dadon (aka Albare) has been quite the prime mover, especially in his adopted hometown Melbourne, to which he came, a French-speaking Moroccan, in the late '80s. Aside from recording a few albums previous to Long Way, his latest and first truly international project, he was chairman of the Melbourne Jazz Festival from 2003 to 2005 and founded the prestigious Australian Jazz “Bell” Awards in 2003. But it's Long Way, under project name Albare iTD (International Tour Diary), that will be taking him to Europe in a few weeks and saw him in New York, where he recorded the album. It all began in Melbourne, though with his long-time bass player and colleague, the Melbourne-based Greek-Cypriot Evripidis Evripedou.

“We hooked up about 20 years [ago],” Dadon explains. “I was playing at the [now defunct] Continental and Evri was very kind to come and check my gig out and at the end we spoke. I'd heard of him of course and we exchanged numbers. I think we started playing together the very next gig and from that moment we really maintained a friendship and collaboration at many levels. But it's only on this album, Long Way, that we truly collaborated in compositions. Evri has so many other projects as well and he's a great composer on his own and when it came to my project he usually played the songs that I wrote.

“In this instance, we changed that because when I came back from Europe in June last year and had this project to do with [the Austrian-based] Enja [Records], I sat down with Evri and started talking about the compositions.”

Evripedou continues the story: “Albare started writing very brief ideas, did his own pre-production and I just took those ideas home and did a lot of pre-production, twisted things around, mucked around with melodies. And then we started playing and bouncing off each other and kind of moulded them into a beautiful synergetic sort of result. And it was so much fun we actually had to stop – like we opened the gate, there was so much coming out of us, so we had to consciously say 'enough now', because there was already far too much material.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

The key to it all though was Albare's meeting one of the most influential people in the European jazz world, Enja label MD Matthias Winckelmann. “I had spoken to Matthias for maybe two months before we met,” Dadon explains. “And I happened to have my holidays last European summer in Corsica and he came to visit me. Basically by the end of that day we knew that we wanted to have a project together and that happened six months later. What he put forward was the idea to play with an international line-up and I was agreeing with that, but the proviso was that Evri was part of the band and he agreed, especially after he heard Evri's stuff.”

The band comprised German-born harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkens, three-time Grammy Award-winning Mexican-American drummer Antonio Sanchez, American saxophonist George Garzone and Argentine-born pianist Leo Genovese, all of whom are coming to Australia to perform the album with Dadon and Evripedou as Albare iTD.

“The rest of the band we didn't know, so it was good that we knew each other so we could bounce off each other,” Dadon says. “We basically met them on the day – in the studio – and five minutes later we were recording. That was [opening track] Cut To The Chase and I remember Matthias getting up and saying [in a gruff voice], 'We have an album!'”