Tag Archives: Middle Eastern music

The Splendid Kurdish Ensemble Nishtiman Project

Nishtiman Project ‎– Kobane (Accords Croisés AC 164, 2016), Collection Vox Populi

Nishtiman Project is an extraordinary ensemble that performs contemporary folk music deeply rooted in traditional Kurdish music. Their second album, Kobane, is dedicated to a city in the Kurdish region of Syria that suffered tremendously when jihadists tried to take over the area.

Nishtiman Project ‎– Kobane

Musical director, percussionist and ensemble founder Hussein Zahawy brought together master musicians from the greater Kurdistan region, from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. They play exquisite timelessly crafted musical pieces.

Nishtiman Project uses captivating traditional musical instruments from the region and solo and harmony vocals as well.

The lineup includes composer Sohrab Pournazeri on tanbur, kamanche and vocals; Hussein Zahawy on daf, dohol and bendir; Ertan Tekin on zorna, balaban and duduk; Donya Kamali on vocals; Mayar Toreihi on santur; and Robin Vassy on percussion.

The physical edition is beautifully packaged with a book-style hard cover and a booklet with information in English and French.

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Enthralling Mix of Nordic Winds and Arabic Atmosphere

Anders Hagberg & Ahmad al Khatib – Melodic Melang

Anders Hagberg & Ahmad al Khatib – Melodic Melange (Footprint Records, 2014)

Melodic Melange delivers a remarkable mix of Nordic jazz and Middle Eastern maqam music. This project features Swedish multi-instrumentalist, composer and Professor Anders Hagberg and Palestinian ud (oud) maestro virtuoso Ahmad al Khatib.

The album contains a set of spellbinding pieces highlighting the sound of various flutes and soprano saxophone in collaboration with the ud. The two soloists are supported by mesmerizing Middle Eastern frame drums and delectable acoustic jazz bass.

The lineup includes Anders Hagberg on flutes, soprano saxophone and mouth harp; Ahmad al Khatib on ud; Johannes Lundberg on double bass and vocals; and Youssef Hbeisch on percussion and vocals.

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Artist Profiles: Ross Daly

Of Irish descent, born in England, Ross Daly traveled as a child with his family around the world and soon his deep interest in music emerged. His first instrument was the cello, which he studied in his childhood years in America. He later began studying the classical guitar in Japan at the age of eleven.

The late 1960s found him in San Francisco, where having experienced both the classical discipline and the air of freedom and experimentation of the time, he first encountered Eastern musical tradition which completely changed his life. Of particular interest to him was Indian Classical music which was destined to be the first non-western tradition that he actively studied. The following years found him traveling extensively studying a variety of instruments and traditions. At that time his main emphasis was on Indian and Afghani music.

In 1975 he traveled to Crete which he had previously visited for a short time in 1970 and 1972 where he had been greatly impressed by the lyra (a small pear-shaped upright fiddle which is the primary folk instrument of the island). After a six month period of wandering from village to village encountering local musicians, he settled in the town of Hania on the west of the island and began studying the Cretan lyra with its great master Kostas Mountakis.

This apprenticeship was to last for many years. During this same time he frequently visited in Turkey where he studied Ottoman classical music as well as Turkish folk music. After many years of intensive training in a variety of musical traditions, Ross Daly turned his attention largely to composition drawing heavily on the various sources that he had studied.

Ross Daly

Daly has released many recordings of his own compositions as well as of his own versions of traditional melodies that he collected during his travels. The island of Crete in Greece still provides a base for his personal and musical research as he travels around the world performing his music.

A virtuoso of Eastern musical instruments, he plays the Cretan lyra, Afghan rabab, lauto, kemence, sarangi, ud, saz and tanbur. A unique composer, Ross Daly, builds his compositions around the subtle but powerful interaction between the sound textures of the various traditions which he has studied.

In recent years, Daly has been performing and recording with composer and Cretan lyra master Kelly Thoma.

Discography:

Ονείρου Τόποι – Oneirou Topi (AEME, 1982)
Lavyrinthos (AEME, 1984)
Ross Daly (1986)
Anadysi (1987)
Elefthero Simio (1989)
7 songs and 1 Semai, with Spyridoula Toutoudaki (RCA, 1989)
Kriti 1, with Manolis Manassakis (RCA, 1989)
Pnoe, with Vassilis Soukas (1990)
Hori (1990)
The Circle at the Crossroads (1990)
Kriti 2, with Babis Chairetis aka “Vourgias”
Selected Works (Oriente Musik, 1991)
An Ki, with Djamchid Chemirani (RCA, 1991)
Mıtos (Network Medien, 1992)
Cross Current, with Djamchid Chemirani & Irshad Khan (1994)
Naghma, with Paul Grant, Bijan Chemirani & Nayan Ghosh (1998)
At The Cafe Aman (Network Medien, 1998)
Synavgia (1998)
Beyond The Horizon (2001)
Gulistan, with Bijan Chemirani (L’Empreinte Digitale, 2001)
Kin Kin (Music Box, 2002)
Music Of Crete (FM Records, 2002)
Iris (Protasis, 2003)
Mıcrokosmos (L’Empreinte Digitale, 2003)
Echo Of Time (2004)
Spyrıdoula Toutoudaki – Ross Daly / Me Ti Fevga Tou Kerou (2004)
Live At Theatre De La Vılle / Avec Le Trio Chemıranı (2005)
White Dragon (2008)
The Other Side (2014)
Tin Anixi Perimenes, with Vassilis Stavrakakis, Giorgos Manolakis (2015)
Osi Hara’Houn ta Poulia, with Evgenia Damavoliti-Toli (2016)
Lunar, with Kelly Thoma (2017)

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A Beautiful Journey Through the Musics of the Middle East

Mehdi Rajabian

Mehdi Rajabian – Middle East (Sony Music, 2019)

Middle Eastern is the latest album from Iranian multi-instrumentalist and composer Mehdi Rajabian. The album is dedicated to the rich musical traditions of the Middle East and focuses on various countries within the region. Mehdi Rajabian brings together classical forms from the Turkish, Persian and Arabic traditions, together with traditional music elements and western classical influences.

Mehdi Rajabian – Middle East

Middle Eastern is an exceptionally good, masterfully-constructed work featuring master instrumentalists using traditional instruments as well as piano and electric bass, along with superb arrangements and majestic cinematic passages.

Mehdi Rajabian invited a hundred musicians from twelve countries in the Middle East. Ironically, the album is not available in Iran due to the restrictions Rajabian is facing. He was imprisoned due to his musical activities. Some of the musicians who participated in the album were refugees fleeing from war or under other forms of stress.

Mehdi Rajabian appears on the album representing Iran. Guests include Arslan Hazreti (Turkey & Syria); Elnur Mikayilov (Azerbaijan & Turkey); Yousuf Alluwaihi (Oman), Tahira Jamal Albalushi (Oman); Alfares (Yemen); Wasim Qassis (Iraq & Palestine); Basem Hawwar (Palestine); Sakhnini Brothers (Palestine); Yarub Smarait (Jordan); Mohamed Saed (Egypt); Hussain Alhaddad (Bahrain); Ali Alolaiwi (Bahrain); and Omar Teymoorov (Tajikistan).

The cover of the album is a photo by Reza Deghati shot in Iraq.

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The Middle Eastern Aspect of Gordon Grdina

Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow – Ejdeha

Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow – Ejdeha (Songlines Recordings, 2018)

Ejdeha presents the Middle Eastern music side of Canadian guitarist and ud player Gordon Grdina. Here, Grdina focuses on the ud in a set of ud solos and improvisations supported by mesmerizing daf frame drum and acoustic bass, along with cello. The album combines remarkable improvisation with tight ensemble interplay.

The lineup on Ejdeha includes Gordon Grdina on ud; Mark Helias on bass; Hank Roberts on cello; and Hamin Honari on tombak and daf.

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Artist Profiles: Roman Bunka

Roman Bunka

Roman Bunka is one of the most prominent German ud players and guitarists. He was born in 1951. Bunka was a founding member of several of the most influential German rock bands, including avant-garde rock bands like Embryo and Aera. He impressed fellow musicians with his oriental style of guitar playing.

In 1976 he gave his first concert with Trilok Gurtu in India. While searching for a second stringed instrument more suited to his musical development in the direction of modal and microtonality, he discovered the Arabic lute, the fretless mother of the guitar, the ud.

His first solo album, Dein Kopf ist ein schlafendes Auto, recorded in 1980 (re-released by ATM-records) presented a blend of avant-garde rock with Oriental melodies. Released in the same period was the more jazz / rock fusion oriented album Live!, recorded in 1979 with the group Aera. After concerts with Okay Temiz in Turkey, Bunka chose Cairo as his musical refuge in the Arab world during the 1980’s.

Bunka was so immersed in Egyptian music that he even represented Egypt with the Nubian singer Mohamed Mounir as arranger and ud-soloist at the Mediterranean Culture Festival in 1992 in Nimes, France. With solo-concerts in Tunis (Festival de la Medina), Cairo, Damascus, Aleppo and Beirut as well as in Lanzarote with the group Vox and his performance at the Jazz Festival in Granada he was able to bring his vision of Arabic music closer to an interested World-music audience.

For the feature film Al Oud, directed by Fritz Baumann, which won the Gold Hugo at the 1992 Chicago International Film Festival, he was responsible for the musical direction and for composing the film music. While shooting, Bunka became involved with the Ensemble of the violin virtuoso Abdou Dagir from Cairo, with whom he made the CD Malik-a-Taksim. The films Warshots and Ende einer Reise by Heiner Stadler (Bavarian Film prize 1992) and the music to the film based on three short-stories by Paul Bodies entitled Halbmond by Frieder Schlaich and Irene von Alberti introduced him as a composer who uses his oriental style of sound collages to cleverly transport the drama.

Along with Grace Yoon, he produced several radio-plays for the Bavarian Radio, one of which, Tunguska-Guska, was awarded the Prix Futura 1993 by the BBC. Tunguska-Guska and their latest radio-play ”Earborn” are both available as CD.

A live-recording of his project Color Me Cairo featuring the Fathy Salama Ensemble from Egypt and Malachi Favors from the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago has appeared on the ENJA label and received the German Record-critics Prize. In 1998 he composed and recorded with the Spanish Flamenco guitarist ‘Tomatito” the music for the cinema movie Bin ich schön!?, directed by the famous German film director Doris Dörrie.

Ever the musical pioneer, in 1999 Bunka and his group, featuring Indian percussionist Ramesh Shotam and Japanese violinist Hiromi Nishida, performed at the first Oriental-Jazz-Festival in Beirut. To celebrate the new millennium, he participated with Mal Waldron, Jeanne Lee, Tri-O, Peter Dicke and Blixa Bargeld in Grace Yoon´s multimedia-event Illusion des Endes.

The year 2000 was launched at a live concert event in front of the Great Pyramids at Giza with Egyptian singer Mohamed Mounir.

Discography:

We Keep On, with Embryo (1973)
Surfin, with Embryo (1975)
Bad Heads, Bad Cats, with Embryo and Charlie Mariano (1976)
Aera Live, with Locko Richter, Klaus Kreuzeder, Lutz Oldemeier, Helmut Meier-Limberg, Freddy Setz (1979)
Reise, with Embryo (Schneeball, 1980)
Germanistan, with Dissidenten (1990)
Malik a Taksim, with Abdo Dagir (Enja, 1992)
From Spain to Spain, with Vox (Erdenklang, 1992)
The Jungle Book, with Dissidenten (Exil, 1993)
Color Me Cairo, with Malachi Favors and Fathy Salama (Enja, 1995)
Enshaallah, with Rahala (United One Records, 1997)
Freedom in Music, with Embryo (2008)
Abadan, with Hammond Schneider (2010)
40, with Embryo (Trikont, 2010)


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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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Beautifully-Sculpted Mongolian and Middle Eastern Fusion

Equus – Tailwind Home (Equus, 2019)

Equus is a multi-ethnic ensemble from the Sydney melting pot in Australia. On Tailwind Home, Equus treats the listener to a fascinating fusion of Mongolian music, Middle Eastern influences, jazz, blues and global percussion.

The Mongolian side appears in the form of the morin khuur, the Mongolian horse head fiddle, and throat singing. The album liner notes clarify that what you hear was actually produced by the human voice, there is no studio trickery.

Equus – Tailwind Home

The Middle Eastern component includes Turkish saz (lute) and ud (Arabic lute).

Equus showcases the versatility of the morin khuur, delivering exquisite melodies and rhythmic performances. Throughout the album, the throat singing vocals, the horse head fiddle, the saz and blues guitar provide alluring interplay.

Personnel: Bukhu Ganburged on morin khuur and vocals/throat singing; John Robinson on saz, ud, guitar and slide guitar; Peter Kennard on percussion, drums, nylon string guitar and dan moi (Vietnamese jaw harp); and Bertie McMahon on double bass, acoustic guitar and vocals.

Equus combine the best of Mongolia, the Middle East and the West with exquisite performances and staying power.

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Olcay Bayir’s Long Musical Road

Olcay Bayir – Rüya – Dream for Anatolia (Arc Music, 2019)

Rüya is the second album from Olcay Bayir, an Alevi Turkish singer-songwriter and composer based in London. She delivers a set of original and traditional poetic songs. Her band includes an international cast of musicians from Turkey, the UK, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Olcay Bayir – Rüya – Dream for Anatolia

Olcay Bayir has a captivating voice style with a blend of passion and energy that fits well with the contemporary world music style of the album. In terms of arrangements, Rüya combines finely sculpted traditional Turkish, Armenian and western instrumentation.

The lineup on the album includes Olcay Bayir on vocals; Giuliano Modarelli on guitar; Al MacSween on keyboards and piano; Aurel Qirjo on violin; Erdi Arslan on zurna, duduk, flute; Kostas Kopanaris on darbuka, bendir, percussion; Sam Vicary on double bass; Erdoğan Bayır on saz; Serkan Çakmak on kaval; Joost Hendrickx on drums; Adam Teixeira on drums; Mehmed Mert Baycan on bendir; Murat Sığırcı on bağlama; and Huw Bennett on double bass.

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Alluring Musical Journey to the Middle East

Various Artists – Journey to the Middle East

Various Artists – Journey to the Middle East (ARC Music, 2019)

Everyone knows that the tin with an assortment of cookies is just so much better than the tins with just a single kind of cookie. It’s just so much better to sample one’s way through dark chocolate covered cookies, white chocolate wafers, shortbread squares, bites of buttery Madeleine cookies or milk chocolate covered cookies with tiny pictures pressed into the chocolate than a beaten up bag of plain old snicker-doodles. That’s just fact.

Interestingly enough it can be the same way with music and our friends at ARC Music know this and have put a wonderful collection for listeners to nibble their way through on Journey to the Middle East. This compilation works its way through the music of Syria, Egypt, Persia, Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon and Turkey. This glorious collection would delight the most seasoned listener or the newbie listener dipping an ear into the musical mysteries of the Middle East.

Listener get a dose of the dramatic right up front with the traditional song and dance from Cyprus titled “Cifdetelli” by the folk ensemble Yeksad. Journey to the Middle East turns hip with Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thornton’s “Planet Egypt” replete with hypnotic percussion and call-and-response interplay between mizmar, argul and kawala from the ARC release Planet Egypt.

Up next is “Aziz Jun” by Zohreh Jooya, originally from the ARC release Persian Nights. Fans will simply not want to miss “Midnight Sun” by Dastan Trio. This track is just simply impressive as Dastan musicians Pejman Hadadi, Hossein Behroozi-Nia, and Hamid Motebassem weave a web of improvisational mastery on barbat, setar and tombak that includes some spectacular percussion.

If that weren’t enough to lure listeners to Journey to the Middle East, there’s the sly and sassy “Iraqi Jazz” by Ahmed Mukhtar, the sweetly soulful “Mi Yitneni Of” by The Burning Bush, originally from the ARC release Folksongs from Israel. There’s also “Amaken” by Andre Hajj & Ensemble, the sultry vocals on the Syrian song “Hayyamatni” by Zein Al-Jundi and Armenian dance song “Karoun, Karoun/Nooneh” by Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian.

The Iranian percussionists of Zarbang have on offer “Cycling Feast” and it is a powerful Sufi trance, ancient Iranian call to the wild and percussion extravaganza all rolled into one. Journey to the Middle East keeps up the wild ride all the way to the end with a final track from Ensemble Huseyin Turkmenler called “Rumeli Karsilamisi.”

Journey to the Middle East is a whole assortment treats and everyone knows that’s the best.

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