Rob Luft: Dahab Days review – guitar pyrotechnics and mellow Middle Eastern vibes

Inspired by an unexpectedly long trip to Egypt, the jazz guitarist’s evocative set of originals and covers spans solo showstoppers and rich ensemble work

Dahab is a Bedouin fishing village in Sinai, where British jazz guitarist Rob Luft took refuge from the pandemic after a festival appearance in Cairo left him stranded in Egypt. Unlike most pandemic creations, there is nothing forlorn about this, his third solo album on Edition. Rather, it’s a celebration of the serenity and vitality of nature, shot through with flavours from the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

A prog rock fan, Luft is an agile guitarist who can let loose pyrotechnic solos – the title track is a case in point – but he is foremost a composer and ensemble player, joined here by his core four-piece band, with the tenor sax of Joe Wright outstanding. Adding ambience on several cuts is the Amika string quartet. There are three non-originals: an acoustic take on Aphex Twin’s Flim; a lyrical take on Duke Ellington’s African Flower; and an arrangement of an Arabic love song, Lamma Bada Yatathanna, where Luft moves from an oud-like opening to unleash his inner Dave Gilmour alongside the haunting guest trumpet of Byron Wallen.

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