A Review of the Milagro Acustico CD
"Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam"

"Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam"
by Milagro Acustico

(WORLD CLASS label. No product number.)
Copyright: Bob Salmieri 2004.

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com , 10/04

I have had some rum albums to review in my time, but this one perhaps is the most unusual to date.

When I heard I was about to get an album inspired by the quatrains of Omar Khayyam, I immediately got excited. For when I was about 15, I got my hands on a copy of Edward Fitzgerald's famous translation. And I just LOVED it.

However my eagerness to receive the CD abated somewhat, when I learned that the verses were being translated into Sicilian dialect! And since my grasp of Sicilian would not be enough to engage even the most passionate conversationalist in Palermo, I wondered if it was for me.

But I should have known better. Bob Salmieri (the driving force behind Milagro Acustico) has the great gift of “inclusiveness”. On his last album, Bob introduced African ethnic instruments and musicians into his ensemble. Here amongst the Sicilian dialect we have the surprising but welcome introduction of Omar Khayyam in Spanish, sung by the flamenco musician Fabio dell' Armi. Plus some Persian vocal too from Iranian performers.

As I said, this is not an album one gets for review every day: and it must be stated from the outset that it is much more an album for the EARS than for the typewriter. That is to say that whilst one can indeed write on it, it lends itself more to reverie and contemplation rather than something as CONCRETE as “words”.

Still, that said, it is of no consolation to the reader of this review: he/she wants to READ my thoughts on the album. It is not sufficient for them just to know that the CD had got me into an occasionally blissful state of contemplation! So, let's get down to the hard job of articulating my reactions.

I confess to switching off from the words as soon as I saw the English translation in the liner notes. (By the way, most handsomely produced liner notes. Congratulations are due to Bob for a first class job here. But not for his English translation.)

Look, I grew up on the Fitzgerald. I feel sorry for the poor benighted souls who will read the following in the notes:
“Coming and going all the time…what's it get you?/Which path is designed for us?/All burning souls become earth, where is the smoke?/I came like water and like wind I go”.
Now, compare that to the magisterial command of Fitzgerald. There is just no comparison:
“Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd---
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."
The first, whilst an honest attempt at translation, has leaden feet. The second is the “real thing” and takes flight.

So, as I say, I “checked out” when it came to the lyrics. I just got out my Fitzgerald and read that instead, whilst Salmieri's music and lyrics provided the background for my musing.

And I have to say that I salute Bob for producing 21st Century music that is strangely totally “simpatico” with the thoughts of this great man of the 11th Century. The instruments run the gamut, and the sound is (loosely) perhaps best described as “avant garde jazz”.

Methinks it will be a year or two before I get such an unusual album for review again.

Buy it from Bob at milagro@milagroacustico.com
Website: www.milagroacustico.com

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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