Toufic Farroukh Tootya

Jazz saxophonist Toufic Farroukh shows his compositional skills with his newest album, Tootya. It’s a mix of Arabic instruments with pop sounds and electronic beats, a soundscape that strives to be different yet seems hauntingly familiar. Each track has something to recommend — a nice sax solo on "Ya Nassim Alrouh” stands out for its natural groove and "Cendres” features a wicked opening bass and pitched drum duet that underlies Farroukh’s sweet soprano sax. For a complete experience, "Destins et desirs” has a beautiful string section and sweet vocals by Jeanne Added, and is one of the few tracks that ends up feeling put, rather than mashed, together. However, it’s also one of the least cross-cultural works, so it depends what you’re looking for. Overall, the rare solo demonstrates the chops that these players obviously have, but so much more is lost in the electronic-ness and pushed pop of the project. It’d be more interesting to hear what these compositions were like free of the pretences of popularity rather than as amalgamations, which while a good listen, fade easily into the background and are ultimately forgettable. (LCL)