Sub Rosa • 2023

If the tin has Maurice Louca’s name on it, you can usually be sure there’s something interesting inside. Four years ago, the Egyptian keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist released his album Elephantine, on which he assembled eleven international musicians for what could be described as his blueprint for jazz, and from which the band of the same name was born. After a few years of touring together, he recorded the album »Moonshine« in Berlin with part of the original line-up and new collaborators. Elephantine’s special touches include twin percussionists (Tommaso Cappellato and Özün Usta), adventurous vibraphonist Els Vandeweyer and a four-piece low-pitched brass section including baritone saxophone (Daniel Gahrton) and tuba (Rasmus Svale Kjærgård Lund). Alongside double bass player Rosa Brunello, the band’s founder himself plays the strings, including guitar and lap steel guitar as well as the synthesiser. A full collective sound, with circling unison horn arrangements, often arabesque melodies, an almost impenetrable rhythmic tapestry and discreetly driving bass and guitar ostinatos. Echoes of North African jazz traditions can be heard, but instead of clinging to comparative greats, it is much more fun to expose oneself to the raw frequencies of »Moonshine«, which sound both old and very new at the same time. It is probably time to nominate Maurice Louca as one of today’s most interesting musicians.