Bristol-based Tamsin Elliott is a musician with a roving ear. Grounded in British folk, she has explored Mediterranean influences with the fusion group Solana, while her 2022 solo debut, Frey, extended her reach into Arabic music. Here she teams with Egyptian oud player Tarek Elazhary to explore the parallels between their respective traditions: 16th-century English dance tunes and classical Arabic melodies, backwoods jigs and Cairo folk. The outcome is a poised, atmospheric fusion delivered by two master players who first met during Elliott’s lengthy pre-Covid stay in Egypt.
It’s a delight, from the delicate, opening harp melody of In the Grey of the Morning, which is taken up by the deeper sounds of the oud and ends with birdsong. By contrast comes the bustling El Hara, a portrait of a busy urban alley overlaid with sinuous flute and fiddle. Much of Elliott’s playing is on a specially tuned accordion, with a Middle Eastern flavour on the title track (a reference to progress in women’s rights) before slipping into morris territory. Amid flurries from the oud and tumbling harp, there are reeds and string accompaniments from a clutch of UK musicians, and a striking rendition of a Sayed Darwish song from Leila El Balouty. A winning creation.