Tag Archives: Arabic music

Deeply Mesmerizing Ud

Smadj – Solotronic (Whirling Wolf, 2017)

Solotronic is the new solo album by Smadj (Jean-Pierre Smadja), a French-Tunisian artist who has taken the ud (Arabic lute) to new realms. On Solotronic, Smadja delivers solo ud pieces where the lute appears in a calm acoustic form and fiery electric format as well. Smadj enhances the ud via electronic effects, using reverb, loops, and adding cutting edge electronic beats and ambient sounds at times.

Smadj’s Solotronica features a shape-shifting ud that is deeply mesmerizing, forward-looking and satisfying.

Buy the digital version of Solotronic


Artist Profiles: Waed Bouhassoune

Waed Bouhassoune

Syrian singer and ‘ud player Waed Bouhassoune was born in 1979. She has a voice of such quality that is rarely encountered one of the most famous voices of Arab song of the last thirty years. Her voice immediately brings to mind that of Umm Kalthum or Asmahan but even though she was born in the same town as the latter it can only be Waed’s voice.

Ever since her first audition in Aleppo the specialists (sammaines) immediately recognized her talent: she was symbolically authorized to perform in public in Paris at the Maison des Cultures du Monde and at the Institut du Monde Arabe. Her success was immediate and she was hailed by the press as a revelation.

Returning to Syria, Waed gave a series of concerts notably at the Damascus Opera. In 2006 she was invited to the Festival of Assilah and the Madinah Festival in Tunis before touring France.
In 2010 Waed Bouhassoun moved to Paris.


La voix de l’amour (Institut du Monde Arabe, 2009)
L’âme du luth (Buda Musique, 2014)
La Voix de la passion, with Moslem Rahal (Buda Musique, 2016)


Syrian Kanun Dreams

Maya Youssef ‎- Syrian Dreams (Harmonia Mundi, 2017)

Syrian Dreams brings together Arabic and western classical music traditions as well as other influences like jazz and flamenco. Maya Youssef is a London-based Syrian musician and composer specialized in the kanun, the ancient plucked zither used in Arabic music.

On Syrian Dreams, Maya’s virtuosic kanun is joined by Barney Morse-Brown’s cello, Attab Haddad’s ud and Sebastian Flaig’s percussion. Flaig uses a wide range of percussion instruments from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

The album includes solo recitals by Maya Youssef as well as duets and ensemble pieces. While Maya Youssef and Attab Haddad contribute performances based on maqam and modern influences, Barney Morse-Brown adds the western chamber music tradition. Meanwhile, Sebastian Flaig’s percussion cuts across traditions, bridging various genres.

The CD booklet includes liner notes in English, French and Arabic.

Personnel: Maya Youssef on kanun; Barney Morse-Brown on cello; Attab Haddad on ‘ud; and Sebastian Flaig on dobolla, bells, riq, frame drums, tasmburiq, cymbal and pitched udu.



Syrian Dreams is a set of mesmerizing and beautifully-crafted interpretations by one of the finest kanun players in the current contemporary Arabic music scene.

Buy Syrian Dreams


Artist Profiles: Sabah Fakhri

Sabah Fakhri

Sabah Fakhri is one of the foremost master vocalists of the Arab world. He was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1933. His talent was recognized early: he was barely ten when he began performing at event concerts with leading professionals of the time.

Fakhri’s teachers at the Damascus Conservatory were well-known composers Shaykh Ali al-Darwish and Shaykh Umar al-Batsh who worked within the musical tradition of the Mevlevi Sufi order in Syria.

In 1950, Sabah Fakhri was invited to sing with the National Syrian Radio Orchestra where he quickly received critical acclaim for his superb vocal technique and unique silver tonal quality.

Fascinated with the history of Arabic music Fakhri researched diligently into the earliest recording of the major Arab artists. As a result, he has amassed a tremendous repertoire of classical songs. His firm grounding in Arabic poetry and literature has enabled him to document traditional Arabic music in a multi-part audiovisual series titled “Nagham al-Ams” (Tunes of the Past) consisting of numerous vocal compositions in traditional genres.

Known for his superb interpretations of the Andalus-based repertoire so popular in Aleppo. Fakhri’s name has been especially linked to the classical muwashshah. He also performs traditional vocal genres such as qasida, dawr, qadd and the improvisational mawwal. He has performed on hundreds of recordings and has toured North and South America, Western Europe, Russia and Australia. He has received numerous honors and medals in recognition of his artistry and achievements.

Partial discography:

The Legend: Live At Beiteddine Festival (Vol.1)
The Legend: Live At Beiteddine Festival (Vol.2)
Best of Sabah Fakhri Legend
Master of Andalusian Folklore


Artist Profiles: Muhammad Qadri Dalal

Muhammad Qadri Dalal

Muhammad Qadri Dalal was born in Aleppo in 1946. He is a first-class master of the Arabic lute (ud) and is very well-known in his own country. He carries on the traditional Aleppian style for his instrument, a style emanating from the Turkish school aiming at a smooth rounded sound. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the traditional repertory.

He is a member of Al-Kindî Ensemble.


Unwonted Maqamat (Naive/Inedit)


Extraordinarily Expressive Contemporary Maqams

Anouar Brahem – Blue Maqams (ECM Records, 2017)

Blue Maqams brings together Anouar Brahem, one of the great masters of the oud, and three of the finest jazz musicians. The music on Blue Maqams is an exquisite mix of Arabic modal music known as maqam, and jazz, classical, flamenco and Brazilian influences. Although there is jazz improvisation, all the pieces, composed by Brahem, have a clearly defined structure.

Anouar Brahem’s oud delights with impeccable performances and interplay with the bass, drums and piano. Dave Holland is one of the most open minded jazz bassists, who has collaborated with flamenco, Latin American and American roots music artists.

The lineup includes Anouar Brahem on oud; Dave Holland on double bass; Jack DeJohnette on drums; and Django Bates on piano.

Blue Maqams is an exceptionally expressive album by oud maestro Anouar Brahem and three dazzling improvisers.

Buy Blue Maqams in Europe

Buy Blue Maqams in the rest of the world


Syriana’s Ipiros Remixes for a Great Cause

Syriana – Ipiros Remixes (Realworld Records, 2017)

This 5-track digital-only EP features several variations of Ipiros. This song was originally made for Syriana’s Road To Damascus album that came out in 2007. However, it never made it to the album and was only previously released as a remix on the vinyl A Life in Film.

All the profits from sales from The Ipiros Remixes will be donated to International Rescue: Greece, a charity that provides aid to Syrian refigees who arrived in Greece. All the musicians are giving their work free of charge.

The musicians behind the Syriana project are British musician Nick ‘Dubulah’ Page (Transglobal Underground and Temple of Sound) and Irish bassist Bernard O’Neill.

The cinematic Kithara Remix features Arabic violin, mesmerizing ambient sounds, Middle Eastern percussion and great guitar work.

Somo Arco Iris Remix highlights the Middle Eastern nay and has vocals in Portuguese by the talented Maria Joao Branco.

The Jazz Remix showcases a saxophone performance.

Liverpool live Remix brings together Middle Eastern and Greek influences, featuring superb Greek vocalist and nay player Kalia Lyraki.

On the S40 Remix the qanun gets the attention it deserves.

Buy Ipiros Remixes


Music to Realize Peace

Rahim Alhaj – Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet

Rahim Alhaj – Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW40577, 2017)

Two ancient traditions meet on Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet, western classical music and Arabic music. Oud (Arabic lute also known as ud) maestro Rahim Alhaj has been living in the United States for over a decade and return to Iraq in 2014 to learn about the current situation there.

Letters from Iraq is Alhaj’s expression of the emotions related with war-ravaged Iraq, stories of love, sadness and suffering. It’s a beautiful bittersweet album where the oud provides exquisite interaction with western classical music string instruments.

The lineup includes Rahim Alhaj on oud, David Felberg on violin; Ruxandra Marquardt on violin; Shanti Randall on viola; James Holland on cello; Jean-Luc Matton on bass viol; and Issa Maluff on percussion.

The CD physical version includes a 40-page booklet with photos, illustrations, and liner notes in English and Arabic.

Buy Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet in the rest of the world

Buy Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet in Europe


Artist profiles: Haytham Safia

Haytham Safia

Haytham Safia, born in 1980, is an Arab-Israeli from Jerusalem. His passion for the Ud started at an early stage.

In 2001 he made his debut as a performer in The Netherlands where he acquired a firm position in the musical ensemble accompanying the Galili Dance Group; they toured throughout Europe.

In 2002 he graduated with distinction at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. With Joshua Samson and Tony Overwater he performed at the Cultura Nova Festival in Heerlen September 2003. In February 24 he played as a soloist with the Holland Symphonia in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

In November 2004 he participated in a workshop in the Rasa (Utrecht) for the Lute festival with another eight musicians from different nationalities.

Haytham Safia is in essence a classical Arabic musician but his compositions and music are influenced by other musical styles such as Persian, Balkan and jazz music.

He established his own group The Haytham Safia Quartet which consists of four musicians from different backgrounds: a Dutch, German and an African. The group performs Haytham’s original compositions that encompass both his performance experience and academic training while still true to his Arab roots.


Fresh Moods

Kind of no blues


Hela Hela

No Complication



Ya Dunya


Farewell Shalabiye


website: haythamsafia.com