Introducing Dozan (Introducing/World Music Network, 2008)
Folk music is often not given its due in favor of the more flashy fusions out there on the musical landscape. Derided as old fashioned, traditional folk music is absently overlooked as simply not innovative, but nothing could be further from the truth in Introducing/World Music Network’s release of Introducing Dozan. Featuring a lineup of Arab musicians and singers based in Jordan, Dozan is a chamber music group offering a fresh look at Levantine folk music.
Founder Shireen Abu-Khader, who is also the director of the Arabic choral preservation arts organization Dozan wa Awtar Music Establishment, has culled the music scene for some extraordinarily talents musicians for the formation of Dozan and a means to reinvent traditional Christian and Muslim hymn found in the music of Jordan.
Opening with the elegant “Lamma Bada Yatathanna,” Dozan proves straight off that traditional Arab folk music needn’t be seen as staid or merely quaint. Dozan vocalists Shireen Abu Khader, Nadine Shahuan and Rashwan Sabbagh sit squarely center stage throughout the CD, including the playful version of “Ya Jarati,” the spare, mystical “Ya Layl” and the classically stunning “Hal Asmar Allon.”
Musically, Dozan sparkles with Feras Hattar on viola, Fadi Hattar on cello, Humam Eid on oud and Mohammad Taha on percussion. Deftly creating cascades of thickly Middle Eastern instrumentation, punctuated by sweeping string lines on “Ya Mo” and “Ya Henna” against the interplay between singers makes Introducing Dozan a delightfully sublime.
The crystalline vocals of Ms. Abu Khader and Ms. Shahuan against the richly wrought vocals of Mr. Sabbagh on “Tal’a Min Bayt Abuhu” bring to mind sitting a courtyard with a glass of tea surrounded by birds singing in the trees; the effect is charming. It is instrumental track “Ajga” that allows the musicians of Dozan to really spread their wings. Plumy with viola, oud, cello and daff, “Ajga” starts out a mysterious journey with dark turns of phrase before leaping headlong into a Middle Eastern jazz riff that is simply electrifying.
Putting a fresh face on the traditional, Introducing Dozan points Arab folk music in an entirely new direction without losing its simple beauty or elegance, so with its wealth of remarkable talent, Dozan is set for a remarkable journey.
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