Middle Eastern Reflections

Putumayo presents... Turkish Groove
Putumayo presents… Turkish Groove

These are some recent releases from the Persian, Turkish and Arabic cultures in the Middle East.

Turkish Groove (PUTU248-2 CD) is a great introduction to popular Turkish music, ranging from Turkish pop to cross-cultural efforts.

The artists featured on Turkish Groove combine Turkish rhythms and melodies with dance beats, hip hop and world sounds (Balkan and Central Asian). The album features Bendeniz, Mustafa Sandal, Eurovision song festival winner Sertab, Nilgül, pop star Tarkan, Gülseren, Emrah, Göksel, Tuğba Ekinci, Nazan Öncel, and the popular Sezen Aksu. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this CD will be donated to Karnaval Kid in support of their efforts to improve childcare and education for disadvantaged children in Turkey.

Kareem Roustom's El-Zafeer Ensemble - Almitra's Question
Kareem Roustom’s El-Zafeer Ensemble – Almitra’s Question


El-Zafeer Ensemble is a group of virtuoso musicians, led by Kareem Roustom, that plays Middle Eastern influenced jazz. On Almitra’s Question (Fuller Street Music), the group mixes acoustic instruments with electric bass. Roustom plays the guitar and is accompanied by violinist Hanna Khoury, several percussionists and two bass players.


Burhan Öçal - Ottoman Garden - Jardin Ottoman
Burhan Öçal – Ottoman Garden – Jardin Ottoman


Burhan Öçal‘s Ottoman Garden – Jardin Ottoman is a solo effort with Öçal playing tanbur and singing on some pieces. Most of the material is Turkish classical music with Öçal playing several taksims.

From nearby Iran comes the album Iran – The Dastagah System (Norsud Music).
Reissued in 2002, the album contains recordings from 1955, made by Deben Bhattacharya. The artists featured are Ostad Zareen Panje Bel on tar, Zareef on ud and zarb, Murteza Nay Davoud on tar, and Darioosh Sefvat on santoor and zarb.

The Syrian maqam tradition, heavily influenced by Turkish music, is reflected in another historic recording: Syrie, the Syrian Makam (Norsud Music). Released in 2002, the pieces were also recorded by ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya in 1955. Muhammad Jabban plays ud on all pieces.