Mernie Flowers of Forgiveness

This ambitious project brings together a host of Toronto world and jazz musicians under the rudder of Ernie and Maryem Tollar. Filled with Ernie's reedy sax and airy flute solos, Mernie rests on a rhythmic foundation comprised of a wonderful array of percussion instruments - dumbeck, surdo, timbales, riqq, udu and akanjira - and grooves from India to the Caribbean. The Arabic music heritage is always close at hand on Flowers of Forgiveness as Maryem's native Ethiopian and Arabic singing styles mingle atop each composition. At one point she even sets a William Blake poem to her own classical Arabic melody ("Infant Sorrow"). Apart from the fact that many of the layered vocal harmonies tend to make a few songs sound closer to restrained vocal jazz, this world-jazz album gathers its many influences selectively and ends up as a cross cultural extravaganza. (Festival)