Terrestrial Lane Records 013111 (www.azamalimusic.com)
I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that a collection of lullabies isn’t a terribly upbeat album, but “De la nuit au lever du jour” also has an unexpected solemnity and stateliness to it. These aren’t your everyday cute little bedtime ditties, at least not to my Western ears. Iranian-Canadian singer Azam Ali has chosen songs from a variety of Middle Eastern cultures, plus a few of her own compositions, and sings them in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish and Azeri. Unless you understand these languages (or the French the lyrics are translated into in the liner notes), you’re free to enjoy these songs from a purely musical standpoint and Ali’s skill and beauty as a singer are undeniable. Her childhood spent in India and her comfort with the quarter-tone are also apparent in some of her compositions, such as Tendresse, written for her son, and the Kurdish Lai Lai. Ali has enlisted expert musicians from each of the regions to accompany her on traditional instruments, such as oud and saz, as well as the contemporary, Montreal-based Bozzini String Quartet. “De la nuit au lever du jour” is a meditative, transporting work.