In the liner notes that critic Bill Milkowski wrote for Oxiana, guitarist Ahmad Mansour is quoted as saying that he has a difficult time composing -- that even though writing may come easy to other musicians, it is a major challenge for him. But it's a good thing that Mansour makes the effort; he's an appealing composer, and the pieces that he wrote for Oxiana underscore his appreciation of the ECM sound. Mansour, who favors an airy style of guitar playing along the lines of John Abercrombie and Pat Metheny, isn't an innovator -- when he recorded this post-bop/fusion effort for Timeless Records (a Dutch label) in 1989, the ECM sound wasn't something new. Nonetheless, Mansour's guitar playing sounds quite personal on pensive, introspective pieces like "May Summer Spring," "Rose Sélavy," and "Lisost" (all of which he either wrote or co-wrote). Some jazz improvisers are content to play nothing but overdone Tin Pan Alley warhorses and do them the same old way, but Mansour -- to his credit -- prefers to offer something more personal. And even though the guitarist (who leads a pianoless quartet that includes Terje Gewelt on bass, Ian Froman on drums, and the Michael Brecker-influenced Donny McCaslin on tenor sax) doesn't do anything groundbreaking, he deserves credit for being his own person. Those who have spent a lot of time listening to players like Metheny and Abercrombie will find that Mansour is well worth checking out, and Oxiana would be a good starting point.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson