Tag Archives: Arabic music

Artist Profiles: Refugees for Refugees

Refugees for Refugees

Refugees for Refugees is a Belgium-based ensemble that includes musicians from Syria, Tibet, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Belgium who are united by their aspiration to intertwine links between their music.  The group has developed an original repertoire that fuses various traditions.

Influences include Afghan, Tibetan, Arabic, Pakistani, and European music. Refugees for Refugees uses a wide range of musical instruments, including nomadic Tibetan chants, the South Asian sarod, Arabic ud and Middle Eastern percussion.

The lineup in 2019 included Asad Qizilbash on sarod (Pakistan), Aren Dolma on vocals (Tibet), Fakher Madallal on vocals, percussion (Syria), Kelsang Hula on dramyen, vocals (Tibet), Mohammad Aman Yusufi on dambura, vocals (Afghanistan), Simon Leleux on percussion (Belgium), Souhad Najem on qanun (Iraq), Tammam Al Ramadan on ney (Syria), Tareq Alsayed Yahya on ud (Syria) and Tristan Driessens on ud (Belgium).

Discography:

Amerli (Muziekpublique, 2016)
Amina (Muziekpublique, 2019)

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Riad Abdel-Gawad – Words of Peace (Medan Elmusica, 2019)

Riad Abdel-Gawad – Words of Peace

Riad Abdel-Gawad – Words of Peace (Medan Elmusica, 2019)

U.S.-based Egyptian composer, violinist and educator Dr. Riad Abdel-Gawad creates music that acknowledges the oneness of humanity. His new album Words of Peace comes out at a very difficult time for Riad Abdel-Gawad and his family. Their home was destroyed during the catastrophic Woolsey fire in 2018. Luckily, the CDs manufactured for this release were stored in a warehouse.

Riad Abdel-Gawad traveled to Cairo to record this album. There, he worked with 17 vocalists, chanters and instrumentalists. Words of Peace is a world music album that contains new musical compositions with elements of western oratorio and eastern wasla and nuba musical suite traditions.

Words of Peace proposes healing, spiritual and practical implements to our current-day existential predicament, delivering a social critique of the human species’ racism, corruption, and materialism, as well as its climate change disaster that directly affected Riad’s life.

The CD tells the story of humanity through Adam and Eve; speaks about the wisdom from religions actions againust racism; tells the little heard story in the West about Prophet Mohamed’s striving towards peace through the activism of politics, as well as speaks about the plight of our planet and its inhabitants through contemporary Arabic ands Nibian (African) poetry,” says Riad Abdel-Gawad . “This time there are also some incredibly improvised solos from singers, chanters and instrumentalists.”

Words of Peace is a beautifully-crafted, gracefully elegant album, highlighting Riad Abdel-Gawad’s mastery as a musician and composer. He’s joined by a outstanding ensemble of top talent from Egypt’s Arabic and Nubian traditions.

The CD booklet includes a striking cover, booklet and inside-tray art from two female contemporary Arab artists: Carelle Hosmsy and Behia Shehab. The liner notes contain fascinating details in Arabic and English.

Personnel: Riad Abdel-Gawad on violin; Ahmed Asteeka on electronic keyboard; Yaser Ontar on vocals; Mohamed Atef on kawala (flute); Mohamed Foda on nay; amal Ibrahim on vocals; Moustafa Abdel-Khalek on qanun; Taha essayad on cello; Islam El Qasabgy on oud; Ashraf Issam on riqq and duff; Hussein Darweesh on bass; and Khaloud Adel (soprano), Rahma Adel (alto) and Mohamed Khaked (tenor) on chorus.

Buy Words of Peace

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Arabesques Festival Announces 2019 Lineup

French event Arabesques Festival will take place September 10 to 22, 2019.  For this 14th edition, Arabesques will showcase many artists from the Arab world who incorporate their African roots and transform them: Aziz Sahmaoui, Oum, Alchimix, Imed Alibi and Gnawa Diffusion.

New collaborations reflect the creative vitality of the African continent, like the 3MA project bringing together the leading artists of Morocco, Mali and Madagascar: Ballaké Sissoko, Driss el Maloumi and Rajery.

Jordi Savall & Waed Bouhassoun

There will be an opportunity to break boundaries as with the creation of Soundjata (Sundiata Keita), a recovery of the Manding epic by storyteller Jihad Darwiche and Malian kora player Tom Diakite.

Additional shows include: The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus and the Al-Kindi Ensemble; Jordi Savall & Waed Bouhassoun, with the Orpheus XXI project; well-known world music acts: Marcel & Rami Khalife featuring Aymeric Westrich, Takfarinas, DuOud …

The festival will present a circus performance of the Acrobatic Group of Tangier with Halka.

The new Arab scene will be featured: Alchimix, Imed Alibi, Sofiane Saidi & Mazalda, Le Lanceur de dés Walid Ben Selim, and Faraj Suleiman Trio as well as the Count of Bouderbala’s One Man Show.

More at www.festivalarabesques.fr

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Shubbak Festival to present special tribute concert to the late Rim Banna

Tania Saleh

Shubbak Festival will return to London’s Barbican Hall on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 with a special tribute concert to the late Palestinian singer, songwriter and composer Rim Banna. The show will include musicians who knew her best as well as close peers in the Palestinian music scene.

The performers include Lebanese visual artist and singer-songwriter Tania Saleh, Palestinian composer and pianist Faraj Suleiman and Syrian producer/MC Bu Kolthoum who will be performing newly re-orchestrated versions of Rim Banna’s material, accompanied by a specially assembled band.

The event is called “The Trace of the Butterfly,” which is the name of one of Banna’s songs as well as a poem by Mahmoud Darwish.

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Interview with Oud Maestros Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran is an acclaimed ensemble featuring the Joubran brothers: Samir, Wissam and Adnan. The three musicians are oud (Arabic lute) maestros and play a superb fusion of Arabic music and global music influences.

Le Trio Joubran’s most recent recording, The Long March is the number one album on the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Adnan Joubran talked to World Music Central about the trio and the Long March.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Karim Ghattas

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Depth of emotions, is one of the essential elements of our music, Le Trio Joubran do their best to understand why they use a note better than another, how a melody becomes a melody, an image first, a direction, a feeling, and a message, some melodies start with a moment of a life for one of the group, and this develops into a concept, and then a melody.

As composers, we aim to bring back or revive emotions that we human beings began to put a side, unfortunately, media, social media has made us numb, and made us live an illusionary life of strength, beauty, power and glory, which isn’t much of a reflection of reality.

Other musical element such “Improvisation” which we always make sure that the album has, or the performance has, to keep our musicality on alert, and or brotherhood on motion, us improvising means alive, means changing, from concert to another, means discover yourself, and let the other discover you better.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Lately, quiet few! Hard not to mention the career of Paco de Lucia and Keith Jarrett for Adnan, and classical artists such as Abdel Wahab for Samir, and the influence of traditional Arabic singing for Wissam.

In the same time, we all listen to different music, jazz, tango, pop, rock, tango and classical Western and Eastern! I believe one should listen and keep listening to all types of music, we find elements that inspire in every genre of music.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Luc Jennepin

How did the ensemble evolve from your first recordings?

The first recording I reckon was experimental in a way that we were trying to see if it works, and it did!

To have three oud players, composers, virtuosos, is a big challenge. We achieved success because we are brothers and we could handle this quiet tough mission well because we allowed ourselves to unveil hidden sides of us, others could like or dislike, but trust, which is another meaning of “brotherhood” could allow this.

At that period, the composition was a secondary target, although today, we have proved to ourselves that it works, that there should be no limit in composition, and there isn’t always a need to prove our technical skills. Today, we stop by the title, and we stop by the message. We make sure that the message is there and the composition should serve it, by complexity, length, directivity, sounds and instruments, and notes.

Le Trio Joubran – The long March

Tell us a little about your new album The Long March.

Two years of discussions and two other years of recordings! Not that it should take that long! But we have been busy touring with previous album, and small projects on the side, such as music for films and important shows, and also because we live apart now, each with his growing family, and each in a different country. We get to meet in tours and discuss and then dedicate a period of recording. But this time has given maturity for the tracks and the ideas.

In this album, we tried to achieve a wider listeners, and introduce the oud to a bigger public, also we tried to introduce new sounds to the listeners of the oud. We have electronics, orchestral, tribal sounds, and vocals. The oud is the singer, and all the other elements support the singer to represent the story.

The body of the album is the poem of Mahmoud Darwish, which says the message of the album. The tracks titles are extracted from this text that is trying to tell this world of industry and world of power, that we are humans. Before and after all, our humanity should remain, despite the reality of wiping it away, and before this power can wipe it away, we will defend everything we have, even our final songs.

We have collaborated with the musical producer Renaud Letang, which an amazing experience, to hand over our baby (composition) and another musician and master of production looks at it and takes the essence of it.

Also we had the privilege to collaborate with Roger Waters for two tracks: one single which we released as a video clip under the title “Supremacy” before the album; and another track, “Carry The Earth” in the album as a dedication to four boys killed on the beach of Gaza by the Israeli forces.

As well with Mohammad Motamdi, an amazing vocalist and singer from Iran; an oriental orchestra from Turkey; as well as a western orchestra from Macedonia; and many other talented musicians!

We have succeeded to color the album. Each title to have a different color and influence, and in the same to have a one message uniting the while tracks.

The three brothers play oud, the Arabic lute. Where did they get the training?

We come from family blended with music and oud making, our father is the third generation in the family who builds the instrument.

Samir, the eldest, had his elder brother the Oud in the house! He studied with a local teacher, and then went to Cairo to learn music.

Wissam started at a young age learning music and violin, and then took the oud as his language as well as studying in Italy (Antonio Stradivari Institute) violin making.

Adnan, had two brothers that are oud players and one father oud maker, so he had no choice to escape this world! Only at the age of 16, he took the instrument in his hands and tried to play, and by the age of 18 he was on stage touring after self-training and listening to his brothers and many other music and musicians.

Who makes your ouds?

Wissam Joubran.

Where are your currently based?

Adnan in London, Samir between Paris and Ramallah, and Wissam in Paris.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Louise Feugier.jpg

Do you have any initiatives to transmit Palestinian and Arabic music traditions to new generations?

Of course, in each album we make sure there is a track that is a traditional way of composing and playing, and we make sure the on stage we have one traditional improvisation. Still, there is more initiative for a more dedicated album only for traditional music.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

Some of them died. Many of them are alive! Hard to mention names, because there are too many! Me, personally, I’d love to play with Keith Jarrett.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

We are very proud of our last album, we have just finished it and glad to share it with you and the rest of the world. There will be soon a very big collaboration with a mainstream artist, but we are not to uncover this surprise now 🙂

More about Le Trio Joubran and its discography.

headline photo: Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Myriam Boulos

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Le Trio Joubran Tops the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart

The Long March by Le Trio Joubran is the number one album in the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Le Trio Joubran features three Palestinian brothers who are ud masters: Samir, Wissam and Adnan.

The March 2019 Chart

  1. Le Trio Joubran – The Long March – Cooking Vinyl
  2. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Miri – Outhere
  3. Urna Chahar-Tugchi featuring Kroke – Ser – Urna Chahar-Tugchi / UCT
  4. Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – Anteprima
  5. Belonoga – Through the Eyes of the Earth – NarRator Records
  6. Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin – Karin – Muziekpublique
  7. Ukandanz – Yeketelale – Buda Musique
  8. Tartit – Amankor / The Exile – Riverboat / World Music Network
  9. Salif Keita – Un Autre Blanc – Naïve
  10. Rodopi Ensemble – Thraki: Thrace, the Paths of Dionysus – ARC Music
  11. Kel Assouf – Black Tenere – Glitterbeat
  12. Leyla McCalla – The Capitalist Blues – Jazz Village / PIAS
  13. Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martínez – Duologue – Mack Avenue
  14. Oratnitza – Alter Ethno – Fusion Embassy
  15. Kitka – Evening Star – Diaphonica
  16. Debashish Bhattacharya, Hubert Zemler & Wojtek Traczyk – Joy!Guru – Unzipped Fly
  17. Kelly Thoma – Ama Kopasoun oi Kairoi (As the Winds Die Down) – Kelly Thoma
  18. Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane – Ma Case
  19. Ali Hassan Kuban – From Nubia to Cairo – Piranha
  20. Shooglenifty & Dhun Dhora – Written in Water – Shoogle

More about the chart: www.transglobalwmc.com

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Artist Profiles: Anouar Brahem

Anouar Brahem

Anouar Brahem was born in 1957 in Halfawine in the Medina of Tunis. Encouraged by his father, an engraver and printer, and music lover as well, Brahem began his studies of the ud (Arab lute), at the age of 10 at the Tunis National Conservatory of Music, where his principal teacher was the ud master Ali Sriti.

An exceptional student, by the age of 15 Brahem was playing regularly with local orchestras. At 18, he decided to devote himself entirely to music. From 1981 to 1985, Brahem lived and studied in Paris, seeking out points of congruence with other cultures. He was, nonetheless, first heard on disc with an all-Tunisian trio on Barzakh (ECM 1432) in 1991. This was followed by the collaboration with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the late Pakistani tabla master Shaukat Hussain on Madar (ECM 1515) and by an album reworking, with an international cast, music Brahem had written for the Tunisian cinema.

In 1985, he returned to Tunis and an invitation to perform at the Carthage festival provided him with the opportunity of bringing together, for “Liqua 85”, outstanding figures of Tunisian and Turkish music and French jazz. These included Abdelwaheb Berbech, the Erköse [Barbaros Erkose] brothers, François Jeanneau, Jean-Paul Celea, François Couturier and others. The success of the project earned Brahem Tunisia’s Grand National Prize for Music.
In 1987, he became the director of the Musical Ensemble of the City of Tunis. Instead of keeping the large existing orchestra, he broke it up into variable size ensembles, giving it new orientations: one year in the direction of new creations and the next more towards traditional music.

On the recording of Khomsa, his partners were Tunisian violinist Bechir Selmi, Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson, Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, and three musicians from France – accordionist Richard Galliano, keyboardist Frangois Couturier, and saxophonist Jean Marc Larche. Although Dave Holland and John Surman both contributed compositional material to Thimar, Brahem’s following album,most of the writing stems from Brahem’s pen.

Two of the pieces were written originally for the Musical Ensemble of Tunis, two more for the Tunisian Theatre, and one originated as a sketch for the Khomsa ensemble. The majority of the music, however, was prepared specifically for the Thimar session. Dave Holland: “I hadn’t known what to expect. Anouar gave us a pile of music the day before the session. There were no bar lines – and of course there were no chords, because that’s not a reference point in this music. But there were these complex melodies, and one phrase might have seven beats in it, and another phrase nine. And when John and I started to play this, at first we were stumbling all over ourselves. But we persevered, put some pencil marks on the music, talked about how to approach the structures… At the session, things started to fall into place, as they so often do. The moment impresses itself upon you, and you rise to the occasion. Bringing these traditions together is by no means simple, and I think what we ended up with is music that has real value.”

As was the case with Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, the drummerless music of Thimar places special responsibilities on Dave Holland to shoulder most of the rhythm duties. The demands seem to bring forth some of his finest playing. “With John and Anouar, although my main function was to be accompanist and rhythm player, I felt I was getting support from both of them because of their ability to maintain a sense of rhythm independently…” Holland was invited into the session after producer Manfred Eicher played Brahem Angel Song. Brahem: “I listened to that album following the bass. It’s like the heartbeat of the music. And Dave’s sound is so beautiful. Powerful, but rounded, not at all aggressive or harsh.” The ud player first became aware of John Surman’s music with the release of the solo album Road To St. Ives in 1990. “This extraordinary sense of melody that John has. ..I liked that so much. It touched me very deeply. Since then, I’ve listened to everything he’s done.”

In 1994, Surman and Brahem toured Japan together but separately, playing opposite each other in concerts to mark ECM’s 25th anniversary. “We got to know each other and got along well and talked then about making a record one day. His playing on all his instruments is exceptional, but I especially like the blending of the bass clarinet and the ud. The wood in the sound makes it a very satisfying combination, I think. “I was really impressed with the engagement of both Dave and John in the making of this album. Collaborations of this kind can be quite…dangerous. Sometimes musicians of different cultures meet only superficially. But they were both concerned to get to the essence of the music.”

In 1995, Brahem released Khomsa, featuring Richard Galliano, Bechir Selmi and François Couturier. This was followed by 1998’s Thimar with John Surman and Dave Holland.

The Astrakan Café album came out in 2000 as Anouar Brahem Trio with Barbaros Erköse and Lassad Hosni.

In 2002, Brahem released Le Pas du Chat Noir, recorded with François Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier, followed by
2006’s Le Voyage de Sahar withe the ame lineup.

In 2009, The Astounding Eyes of Rita came out. Lineup: Klaus Gesing, Björn Meyer and Khaled Yassine.

Souvenance was released in 2014, recorded with Francois Couturier, Klaus Gesing and Björn Meyer.

Anouar Brahem released Blue Maqamns in 2017 with Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and Django Bates.

Discography:

Barzakh (ECM Records, 1991)
Conte De L’Incroyable Amour (ECM Records, 1992)
The Silences Of The Palace Caroline Records, 1994)
Madar (ECM Records, 1994)
Khomsa (ECM Records, 1995)
Thimar (ECM Records, 1998)
Charmediterranéen (ECM Records, 2002)
Le Pas Du Chat Noir (ECM Records, 2002)
Le Voyage De Sahar (ECM Records, 2006)
The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM Records, 2009)
Souvenance (ECM Records, 2014)
Blue Maqams (ECM Records, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Sonia Mbarek

Sonia Mbarek

Sonia Mbarek was born in Sfax, Tunisia in 1969. She graduated from the National Music Conservatory in Tunis. She has won many prizes in Tunisia and France, including the Diapason d’Or for her CD Takht.

Over the last years she has taken part in many music festivals in the Arab world, in Europe and in the USA.

Discography:

Liberté (1992)
Tarab (1994)
Tawchih (1997)
Takht (Network Medien, 1999)
Tir el Miniar (2003)
Romances (2007)

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Anouar Brahem to Perform Blue Maqams in London

Anouar Brahem

Tunisian composer and oud maestro is set to perform on Friday, March 15, 2019 at Barbican Hall in London. The concert draws together Brahem’s profound insight into Arab music alongside his fascination with a broader canvas. Here he will present material from his latest recording Blue Maqams (ECM), alongside pianist Django Bates, drummer Nasheet Waits and virtuoso bassist Dave Holland.

Pianist Kit Downes will present the opening set with music from his upcoming ECM album, Obsidian, in duo with saxophonist Tom Challenger, linking into the 50th anniversary of ECM Records. Downes has developed a fascinating approach to music for solo pipe organ and solo piano. His current work includes collaborations with cellist Lucy Railton, composer Shiva Feshareki, the band ‘ENEMY’, and violinist Aidan O’Rourke.

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