April 2, 2018
Dana El Masri of Jazmin Saraï
“The heart is a thousand stringed instrument that can only be tuned with love.” – (14th Century)
There is no doubt that many artists, musicians and perfumers have been blessed (or for many cursed) with synaesthesia. Most of the people I know suffer from varying degrees and types of this experience. For these artists communicating synaesthetic impressions is more than blurring the boundaries between sight, sound, smell and taste. It takes true skill and dedication to translate (to tune, so to speak) these very personal and subjective experiences into clear sensory messages that other people can understand. Award-winning perfumer (including a Perfumed Plume 2016 for Science of Scent for CaFleureBon), synaesthete and writer Dana El Masri, does just that as she explores …" the convergence of scent, music & culture." Jazmin Saraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Saraï Nar (the Tarab Duet) are inspired by the music of two of the most revered musicians in the Arab world – the legendary Lebanese songstress, Fairuz (b. 1935) and the iconic Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez (1929 – 1977).
(Dana took this photo from one of Fairuz’s album covers)
According to Dana El Masri, the name of the line, Jazmin Saraï “…embodies the union between the queen of white flowers Jasmine and the king of musical genres Jazz, wafting through the inner walls of a Saraï, an oriental palace. Each perfume is translated through beats, rhythm, harmony, lyrics, and tempo…a homage to the artist that inspired them." The Arabic word "tarab" (طرب) refers to how the human voice in song creates an ecstatic, rapturous and emotional connection between the performer and audience members. Jazmin Seraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Seraï Nar from the Tarab Duet fragrances elicit just such a bond between the perfumer and the perfumed. Jazmin Saraï Ma'ré is inspired by the melody and the lyrics of "Shayef El Bahr" – See the Sea – as performed by the singer Fairuz, considered by her many fans to be the Callas of Arabia.
"See – How deep is the sea – I love you that much
See – how distant the sky – that far I love you…
How wide the forest, like the width of my heart…" – from the lyrics of "Shayef El Bahr" by Rahbani Brothers
Jazmin Saraï Ma'ré photo credit Rosenbluth Photography
The first impression of Ma'ré is that of a brisk wind off the sea – evoking the wonder of the vast and deep ocean as it meets the clouds at the horizon. A delicate airy lemon and sunny neroli with the faintest hint of anise, recall a bright, cool spring morning on the shore, the warmth of the sand, a slight chop on the water and the airy turquoise blue of the sky. After about five minutes a delicate touch of fig begins to bloom on my skin, adding a green sweetness to the fragrance and beckoning me inland to hills forested with cedars and cypress. As the perfume dries down it moves from the initial colors of sea and sky blue to woody greens, touched with lemon and the freshness of the sea air. For a good five hours the heart of Ma'ré wafts a buoyant and joyous nectar of figs, woods and neroli, vanishing as a light afternoon breeze through the cypress trees. Notes: Lemon, neroli, Arak Accord (similar to anise liquor accord), sea notes, fig, cedarwood and cypress.
An Edit fromDana’s Grandparents’ wedding day
The Abdel Halim Hafez performance of "Hobak Nar", (Your Love is Fire) from the 1959 film Hakayat Hob (Love Story) inspired the flipside of the Tarab Duet – Jazmin Saraï Nar. The word "nar" (نار) translates as either "fire" or "hell". Abdel Halim Hafez was not only an amazing singer and performer but also a music teacher, actor, composer, film producer and philanthropist. He transcended his own hell of childhood tragedy and poverty as well as many years of chronic illness, bringing his audiences the brilliant gifts of his many talents.
Photo credit Rosenbluth Photography
"…It's hell, my darling, hell
Your love is a fire that I don't want to put out
Every moment I must feel it
A fire, my darling, that woke me up and healed me…" – from the lyrics of "Hobak Nar" by Abdel Halim Hafez
Jazmin Saraï Nar opens as the name of the song suggests – with the scent of fiery sparks, burning embers and wisps of smoke. The initial blaze is tempered with the soothing, slightly peppered warmth of coriander, adding a suggestion of orange and as well as an earthen element to the blaze. The fiery embers cool after about an hour as Nar retreats to the skin, featuring more coriander, a faint scent of wood ash, amber and the sweet woods of cedar and guaiac. From this point on Jazmin Saraï Nar is very much a linear fragrance, lingering for up to four hours on my skin and perhaps five or six hours on clothing. Nar is a difficult fragrance to characterize. It is not so much incense or a campfire scent as it is a mysterious, dark blaze that suggests both the pleasures of love and the fires of lust. Notes: Coriander, cedarwood, guaiacwood and burning embers.
Disclaimer: Many thanks Dana El Masri for the generous samples of the Jazmin Saraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Saraï Nar (Tarab Duet). My opinions are my own.
Gail Gross – Senior Editor
Art Direction: Michelyn Camen – Editor-in-Chief (all photos for the review of Jazmin Seraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Seraï Nar from Dana El Masri)
Jazmin Saraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Saraï Nar
Thanks to the generosity of Dana El Masri we have one set of JazminSaraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Saraï Nar to one registered reader anywhere in the world. Be sure to register or your comment will not count.) To be eligible for the draw, please tell us where you live and what appeals to you about Gail's review of Jazmin Saraï Ma'ré and Jazmin Saraï Nar which you might prefer and if you are familiar with the music from the Middle East. Draw closes 4/5/2018