The Drummers of the Nile in Town (Piranha Musik CD PIR 1791, 2003)
For his latest Drummers of the Nile outing (there’s been two previous ones for the Piranha label), master percussionist Mahmoud Fadl not only utilized a characteristic lineup of Arabic drums, accordion and the like, but also sought the assistance of some guys he thought he’d never find. It seems there’s a perennial musician’s hangout called Mohamed ‘Ali Street in Cairo where Fadl was once entranced by a particular nameless brass band and never forgot how right on they sounded. Years later, just when he’d abandoned hope of ever enlisting their expertise, into the studio they walked. Turns out these were no ordinary musicians- they were the remnants of the famed Hasaballah Brass Band who’d once
played in the court of King Faruk in addition to gracing such projects as Frank London’s Brotherhood of Brass album from a couple of years ago.
Hasaballah’s presence gives some of the tracks an added tartness that splendidly compliments the sharp complexities of rhythms played on darbuka, duhula, duff and riq drums. There are short solo pieces here with the feel of improvised jams as well as fuller excursions with and without horn accompaniment. The percussionists are in top form, easily going from military precision to freewheeling abandon. A remix of an earlier Fadl track, “Bellah Aament,” closes things out on a note that comes across weakly in comparison to what preceded it, but the blistering drumming and inspired contributions of that not-quite-lost brass band give the album more than enough kick.