Tag Archives: Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek and his Ensemble to Perform at Carnegie Hall

Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek, one of the greatest artists in the world music scene is set to perform on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at 8.30pm at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Omar Faruk Tekbilek will perform his remarkable combination of traditional Sufi, traditional folk and contemporary music from Turkey and the Middle East.

The lineup includes Omar Faruk Tekbilek on ney, vocals, baglama, zurna and percussion; Hasan Isakkut on kanun; Itamar Erez on guitar and piano; River Guerguerian on drums and percussion; and Murat Tekbilek on percussion. Special Guests: Brian Keane on guitar and Ara Dinkjian on ud.

Omar Faruk Tekbilek’s most recent CD is “Love Is My Religion.”

Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Love Is My Religion

Carnegie Hall
57th Street & 7Th Ave,
New York City, New York

More information at www.carnegiehall.org


World Music Central Announces the Best World Music Albums of 2017

Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet – Ladilikan

We announce the list of best world music albums of 2017. The selection was made by a panel of editors and contributors from World Music Central and its affiliate Spanish-language world music magazine Músicas del Mundo.

The list includes 11 albums because 5 recordings were tied for 7th place.

Top World Music Albums in 2017

1. Trio da Kali & Kronos Quartet – Ladilikan (World Circuit Records) – USA/Mali


Raúl Rodríguez – La Raíz Eléctrica

2. Raúl Rodriguez – La Raíz (Boa Musica Editorial) – Spain


Magín Díaz – El Orisha de la Rosa

3. Magín Díaz – El Orisha de la Rosa (Noname) – Colombia


Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita – Transparent Water

4. Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita – Transparent Water (Otá Records) – Cuba/Senegal


Daymé Arocena – Cubafonía

5. Daymé Arocena – Cubafonía (Brownswood Recordings) – Cuba


Rahim Alhaj – Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet

6. Rahim Alhaj – Letters from Iraq (Smithsonian Folkways) – Iraq/USA


Yasmine Hamdan – Al Jamilat

7. Yasmine Hamdan – Al Jamilat (Crammed Discs) – Lebanon


Msafiri Zawose – Uhamiaji

7. Msafiri Zawose – Uhamiaji (Soundway Records) – Tanzania


The Expanders – Old Time Something Come Back Again Vol. 2

7. The Expanders – Old Time Something Come Back Again Vol. 2 (Easy Star Records) – USA


Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Love Is My Religion

7. Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Love is my Religion (Alif Records) – Turkey


Jean-Luc Thomas & Ravichandra Kulur – Magic Flutes


7. Jean-Luc Thomas & Ravichandra Kulur – Magic Flutes (Hirustica) France/India

Our list reflects the diversity of the world music scene and our panelists. Our writers are based in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia,” says World Music Central’s Managing Director Angel Romero.

World Music Central is an international online publication with readers worldwide that includes news, reviews, artist biographies, glossaries and other resources. Genres featured include traditional and contemporary folk music, world fusion, global electronica, flamenco, tango, bluegrass, salsa, reggae and any other genre rooted in traditional music.

World Music Central’s 2017 panel includes Daryana Antipova, Tom Orr, Rafael Mieses, Madanmohan Rao, Dorothy Johnson-Laird and Angel Romero Ruiz.


Robert Browning Associates Announces Winter/Spring 2018 World Music Shows in New York City

Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita

Renowned world music presenter Robert Browning has announced the artists that are scheduled to perform in New York City during the winter/spring 2018 season.

The 2018 winter/spring program includes guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire Paolo Angeli, who mixes jazz and other genres with the music of his native Sardinia (Jan 26); masterful flamenco with guitar virtuoso José Antonio Rodríguez, who will be making his first New York appearance since 2010 (Mar 3); the fiery Gypsy flamenco vocalist Antonio Montoya presenting Versos olvidados (Forgotten Verses), a tribute to the women poets of the Generation of 1927 (Mar 16).

Also scheduled: ‘ud (lute) and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen, Qantara, and the Qantara Berklee Ensemble performing a remarkable program of Arab film music (Mar 17); two celebrated artists, Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Senegalese kora (harp-lute) player Seckou Keita, combining jazz, Latin and African influences (Mar 22).

The great multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek, a brilliant interpreter of Sufi, folk and contemporary music of the Middle East (Apr 14); and the Fourth Annual A World in Trance Festival featuring the music of Afghanistan with Homayoun Sakhi, the outstanding Afghan rubab (lute) player of his generation (Apr 27); the music of India with Ustad Shahid Parvez, one of the world’s leading sitarists (Apr 28); and spiritual and mystical Persian classical music with virtuoso Hossein Omoumi, one of the leading Persian ney (flute) players (Apr 29).

Fri Jan 26, 8:30pm, Zankel Hall – Sardinia’s Paolo Angeli, vocals & guitar***

Sat Mar 3, 8:00pm, Roulette – Flamenco Festival: José Antonio Rodríguez, Flamenco Guitar Maestro**

Fri Mar 16, 8:00pm, Roulette – Flamenco Festival – Flamenco Eñe: Angelita Montoya, Versos Olvidados (Forgotten Verses): A Tribute to Women Poets**

Sat Mar 17, 8:00pm, Roulette – Musical Gems of the Arab Cinema: Simon Shaheen & Qantara with guest group Qantara Berklee Ensemble *

Thur Mar 22, 8:00pm, Roulette – Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita: “Transparent Water”

Sat Apr 14, 8:30pm, Zankel Hall- Sufi, Folk & Contemporary Music of Turkey & the Middle East: Omar Faruk Tekbilek***

Fri Apr 27-Sun Apr 29 Roulette – 4th Annual A World in Trance Festival

Fri Apr 27, 8:00pm, Roulette – A World in Trance – Afghanistan: Homayoun Sakhi*

Sat Apr 28, 8:00pm, Roulette – A World in Trance – India: Ustad Shahid Parvez*

Sun Apr 29, 7:00pm, Roulette – A World in Trance – Persia: Hossein Omoumi*

*Presented by Robert Browning Associates with Lotus Music & Dance
**Presented by Robert Browning Associates in partnership with Flamenco Festival
***Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Robert Browning Associates

More at www.robertbrowningassociates.com


Artist Profiles: Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek was born in 1951 in Adana, Turkey to a musical family who nurtured his precocious talents. At the age of eight he began his musical career by developing proficiency on the kaval a small diatonic flute. “My brother was a born musician,” Faruk recalls. “He was really my guru my inspiration.” His brother Hadji played the flute but as he grew up Faruk found himself drawn to other instruments as well.

At the same time, Omar studied religion with thoughts of becoming a cleric or Imam. His musical interests were being nurtured by his older brother and by a sympathetic uncle who owned a music store and who provided lessons. “He had a music store and he also had another job during the day. So he told me to come after school open the store and – in exchange – he gave me lessons.”

While working in the store Omar Faruk learned the intricate rhythms of Turkish music how to read scales and other rudiments. He was trained on and eventually mastered several instruments: ney (bamboo flute), zurna (double-reed oboe like instrument with buzzing tone), the baglama (long-necked lute), the ud (the Middle Eastern lute), as well as percussion. By the age of twelve he began performing professionally at local hot spots.

Because it was a border town,” Faruk recalls, “Philosophers artists actors and all other members of the cultural intelligentsia were attracted there. This explains why so many great musicians have come from my town. My city was rich with cultural opportunities so I was very lucky.”

In 1967, upon turning sixteen he moved to Istanbul where he and his brother spent the following decade as in-demand session musicians. Omar Faruk stayed true to his folkloric roots but during this period of frenetic session work in the metropolitan music scene he explored Arabesque, Turkish and Western styles and the compositional potential of the recording studio. In Istanbul he also met the Mevlevi Dervishes, the ancient Sufi order of Turkey. He did not join the order but the head Neyzen (ney player) Aka Gunduz Kutbay became another source of inspiration. Omar Faruk was profoundly influenced by their mystical approach and fusion of sound and spirit. During that time he was introduced to Hatha Yoga and eventually to Tai Chi and Chi Qong which he continues to practice daily.
Omar Faruk’s skills in the studio blossomed in Istanbul playing with some of the leading Turkish musicians of the day including Orhan Gencebay flute and saxophone player Ismet Siral percussionist Burhan Tonguc and singers Ahmet Sezgin, Nuri Sesiguzel, Mine Kosan and Huri Sapan to name a few.

After establishing himself as one of the top session musicians in Turkey he began touring Europe and Australia. By 1971 at the age of 20 he made his first tour of the United States as a member of a Turkish classical/folk ensemble. It was while touring in the USA that he met his future wife Suzan and in 1976 he relocated to upstate New York to marry her.

Omar Faruk found very few options for a Turkish musician in the USA so he formed a band called the Sultans with an Egyptian keyboardist, a Greek bouzouki player and his brother-in-law on percussion. It started as a pop band but very quickly turned into a sort of Pan-Near Eastern ensemble. They began to attract some attention within the circle of Middle Eastern dance fans. They managed to record five albums during this time but Omar Faruk was still unknown outside his local musical community.

This was all about to change with the fateful meeting with Brian Keane in 1988. Keane released an album in 1988, Suleyman the Magnificent. A film was being made about the Ottoman emperor Suleyman to coincide with the opening of an exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brian Keane was hired to do the soundtrack. “I knew I wanted to incorporate Turkish instruments and players,” he recalls, “but the Met saddled me with a bunch of professors; all intellect and no emotion.”

Desperate to move the recording along, Keane called Arif Mardin, the legendary Turkish producer of the Bee Gees, Aretha Franklin and so many others and asked if he knew any Turkish musicians. Mardin didn’t. “But two or three days later he called and said his cooks went to Fazil’s, a belly dance club in Manhattan. So I went for five nights and suffered through really bad belly dance music. Then one night Faruk shows up looking like he was right off the boat. (In fact he had just driven down from Rochester, New York, over 33 miles away.) You could tell immediately that he was different. His playing was so emotional; he really stood out.”

Keane had already seen the opening of the film and knew what he wanted, the mystical sound of the Sufi flute or ney added to his own synthesizer. As far as he knew, this combination hadn’t been done before, but Keane invited Tekbilek to his studio to try it. “When Faruk started playing,” he said, “the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was magic from the start.” Their very first take became the opening of the movie and the recording. Faruk brought in some of his friends and the soundtrack was soon finished. In the following years, he and Keane would produce another six recordings, together launching Omar Faruk boldly into the world music scene.

Omar Faruk Tekbilek has since established himself as one of the world’s foremost exponents of Middle Eastern music. A multi-instrumentalist par excellence, he has collaborated with a number of leading musicians of international repute such as jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, keyboard player Karl Berger, former Cream rock drummer Ginger Baker, Ofra Haza, Simon Shaheen, Hossam Ramzy, Glen Velez, Bill Laswell, Mike Mainieri, Peter Erskine, Trilok Gurtu, Jai Uttal and Steve Shehan among others. He has contributed to numerous film and TV scores and to many recordings, including world sacred music albums and has been touring extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Australia, North and South America.

Alif (2001) was produced by Steve Shehan. Alif is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet and it also signifies the first letter for Allah. The seventh song and title track is a Sufi masterpiece of devotional love in all its forms – divine love romantic love and love of life. This is the theme running through the album’s 12 songs. The album includes Hadji Atmet Tekbilek, Mamak Khadem and Flamenco guitarist Jose Antonio Rodriguez Muñoz.

In 2005 he released The Tree of Patience which features Flamenco legend Enrique Morente, percussion master Arto Tuncboyaciyan, Ara Dinkjian, ambient music innovator Steve Roach and Hansan Isakkut. “I have a picture I carry in my mind,” Omar Faruk Tekbilek revealed. “I call it The Tree of Patience.”

Omar Faruk is the recipient of the Best Artist of the Turkish Music Award 2003 from the Turkish Writers Association. He is also the recipient of the US Golden Belly Musician-Of-The-Year-Award for 1998 and again for 1999.


Suleyman The Magnificent (Celestial Harmonies, 1988)
Fire Dance (Celestial Harmonies, 1990)
Whirling (Celestial Harmonies, 1994)
Gypsy Fire, with Hagopian (Traditional Crossroads 1995)
Mystical Garden (Celestial Harmonies 1996)
Crescent Moon (Celestial Harmonies 1998)
One Truth (Hearts of Space 1999)
Dance into Eternity (Celestial Harmonies 2000)
One with Yuval Ron Yair Dalal (Magda 2003)
Alif – Love Supreme (Narada World Select 1198 2002)
The Tree of Patience (White Swan, 2005)
Rare Elements (Remixes) (5 Points Records 2009)
Kelebek – Butterfly soundtrack (Celestial Harmonies 2009)Love Is My Religion (Alif Records, 2017)


Impeccable and Spellbinding Performances by Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Love Is My Religion (Alif Records, 2017)

Love Is My Religion out on the Alif Records label, the latest offering by Turkish composer and multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek is stylishly dramatic and sleekly passionate and a worthy addition to Mr. Tekbilek’s impressive discography that includes the recordings The Sultans Middle Eastern Band Vol 1 and 2, Suleyman the Magnificent, Beyond the Sky, Whirling, Mystical Gardens, Alif, and Kelebek. Pulling at threads from the past and present, from the traditional and contemporary, Love Is My Religion cleverly weaves a spell that is both beguiling and deliciously exotic.

Opening with “Araf,” listeners delve deep into the warm riches of Mr. Tekbilek’s mastery of ney, oud, davul, bendir and darbuka, as well as the flavors offered up by accompanying artists Alex Alessandroni Jr. on piano, Bahadir Sener on kanun, Yossi Fine on acoustic bss and Chris Wabich on drums. If that weren’t enough to tempt listeners “Vivir” is utterly spectacular with the song’s composer and vocalist Yasmin Levy taking center stage with her heartbreaking vocals. Joined by Mr. Tekbilek on vocals and various instruments, keyboardist and guitarist Amotz Plessner and Hamid Saeidi on santour, “Vivir” shimmers.

Love Is My Religion adds icing to the cake with Ismet Siral’s “Barefoot Dervish” in all its piano, synthesizer, brass and woodwind goodness, as well as A. Ekber Cicek’s “Haydar” and the delicately delightful “Mara” composed by Amotz Plessner, Alex Alessandroni Jr. and Idan Raiche who also his own piano work to the recording, but the real outstanding performance on this track has to be Lili Haydn’s spectacular violin lines. Standout tracks like deeply exotic “Memories,” the jazzy slant found on “Steepe” and closing track “Adam, Love Is My Religion & Tende Canim,” composed by Mr. Tekbilek and using a traditional Sufi melody are sure to please any music fan.



The performances on Love Is My Religion aren’t just impeccable there’s hypnotic, graceful and fiercely good, so my only advice is to listen up, load up and disappearing into some delicious music.



Buy Love is My Religion in Europe

Buy Love Is My Religion in the rest of the world


Music Without Borders Presents Dandana: A Celebration of Muslim Voices with Tinariwen and Omar Faruk Takbilek

Tinariwen - Photo by Jan Kook
Tinariwen – Photo by Jan Kook


Tinariwen returns to Chicago for a concert on Thursday, June 17, 2010, at 6:30 pm, on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. They are preceded by Turkish musician Omar Faruk Takbilek for a night of Muslim voices and music organized in collaboration with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Admission is free.

Hailing from the Sahara Desert region of Mali, Tinariwen combines traditional Tuareg melodies with blues, rock, Berber, and Arabic influences to create hypnotic, trance-like songs. Many young members, like founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabig, had witnessed violence during the 1963 uprising in Mali and lived a migratory and precarious life in the the Sahara.

Ag Alhabib and his friends started to play music in the late 1970s at parties and weddings in the Tuareg community in southern Algeria. People started to call them “Kel Tinariwen” or “The Desert Boys.”

Ag Alhabib and his bandmates continued to play their music throughout the Sahara region, even as many members participated in the Tuareg rebel movements of the 1980s in Libya and then Mali. After a peace agreement known as the Tamanrasset Accords was reached in January 1991, the musicians left the military and devoted themselves to music full time. In recent years, Tinariwen has gained international attention and played hundreds of concerts in Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia.

They’ve participated in some of the world’s premier rock and world music festivals, including Glastonbury, Coachella, WOMAD, and Printemps de Bourges, and their albums Ammassakoul: The Traveler (2004), Aman Iman: Water Is Life (2007), and Imidiwan: Companions (2009) have established them as one of the most popular and best selling African groups on the planet.

Since 2001, the Tinariwen collective has added several younger Tuareg musicians who did not live through the military conflicts experienced by the older members but have contributed to the collective’s multi-generational evolution. The current touring group includes Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Hassan Ag Touhami, Abdallah Ag Alhoussenyni, Eyadou Ag Leche, Said Ag Ayad, Elaga Ag Hamid, Abdallah Ag Lamida, and Mohammed Ag Tahada.

Omar Faruk Tekbilek
Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Hailing from a different region of the Muslim world, multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek begins the evening’s musical celebration. Honored as a peacemaker and virtuoso, Tekbilek has established himself as one of the world’s foremost exponents of Middle Eastern music. Tekbilek’s music is rooted in Turkish and Sufi traditions, but has been influence by contemporary sounds.

Tekbilek has collaborated with a number of leading musicians of international repute such as jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, keyboard player Karl Berger, ex-Cream rock drummer Ginger Baker, Ofra Haza, Simon Shaheen, Hossam Ramzy, Glen Velez, Bill Laswell, Mike Mainieri, Peter Erskine, Trilok Gurtu, Jai Uttal and Steve Shehan among others. He has contributed to numerous film and TV scores and to many recordings including world sacred music albums, and has been touring extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Australia, North and South America.

The June 17 concert is presented with IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) and the 2010 Takin’ it to the Streets Festival in Marquette Park on Saturday, June 19. The urban international festival is a Muslim-led festival where artistic expression, spirituality, and urban creativity inspire social change. The concert is supported by contributions from The Chicago Community Trust.

Millennium Park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago. It is bordered by Michigan Ave. to the west, Columbus Dr. to the east, Randolph St. to the north and Monroe St. to the south. Convenient parking is located in the Millennium Park Garage (entrance on Columbus at Monroe or Randolph) and at the Grant Park North and East Monroe Garages, all located within a short walking distance of Millennium Park.

Buy Tinariwen’s CDs, DVDs and MP3 downloads:

Buy Omar Faruk Tekbilek CDs:


Skirball Cultural Center’s Summer 2009 World Music Concerts

Issa Bagayogo - photo by Fode Kone
Issa Bagayogo – photo by Fode Kone


The July and August free Sunset Concerts scheduled at Skirball Cultural Center include Issa Bagayogo; Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, and Väsen; Gadji-Gadjo; The Wild Magnolias; and Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble.

On Thursdays in July and August at 8 pm, the series presents global masters of musical enchantment and cultural fusion at the Los Angeles museum and performing arts venue, often in their United States or Los Angeles debuts, all in a uniquely inspiring, intimate atmosphere.

But the Skirball does more than put on a fine show. It opens its galleries, currently featuring two exhibitions on the enduring art of comic books, for special evening hours. It offers a buffet dinner at the Skirball’s Zeidler’s Café, often serving cuisine from the region of that night’s performers. It even provides inexpensive and ample parking in the facility’s newly expanded parking lots.

The Skirball goes to these lengths for a reason that may surprise those who consider the Skirball as dedicated solely to Jewish culture. “It is essential to our mission as a Jewish institution to present global artists,” explains Jordan Peimer, Skirball Director of Programs. “At the heart of all of our programming is the core Jewish value of welcoming the stranger. It’s built into everything that we do.”

Along with openhanded hospitality, this welcoming spirit is reflected in the Skirball’s goal of promoting cross-cultural exchange. “Our mission is about inclusion,” continues Peimer. “World music celebrates people’s cultural heritage, the history and ideas they bring with them when they encounter new communities, the universal values that transcend time and place. The music we present is about the generational gifting of culture. We want people of all backgrounds to have an investment in their ethnic and cultural identities and to celebrate them within a society in which all of us can feel at home.”

To the Skirball, this is a gift that musicians share with each other, as well as with an audience: to create a forum for sharing stories and celebrating ancient legacies. Adds Skirball Music Director Yatrika Shah-Rais, “When artists collaborate with sincerity and true respect, what often emerges is an amazing fusion that stands out as its own unique music. That is what always comes across at our Sunset Concerts.”

In this summer’s 2009 season, Sunset Concerts will showcase innovative fusion, thanks to the electronica-fired Malian grooves of Issa Bagayogo (Thursday, July 16); the trans-Atlantic, bluegrass-meets-Swedish folk encounter of Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, and Väsen (Thursday, July 23; L.A. premiere); the Roma and klezmer-inflected jams of Montreal’s Gadji-Gadjo (Thursday, July 30; Los Angeles premiere); the serious funk of New Orleans beloved Mardi Gras Indian ensemble The Wild Magnolias (Thursday, August 6); and the Sufi-inspired virtuosity of Turkish multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble (Thursday, August 13).

The young Issa Bagayogo, now known in his native Mali as “Techno Issa,” seemed destined for a career as a blacksmith, not as a global dance-floor sensation. Despite remarkable talent on the three-stringed n’goni lute, a long-lost relative of the banjo, Bagayogo was down and out in Bamako working as a bus driver when he ran into French electronica producer Yves Wernert. They teamed up to create a sound that showcases Bagayogo’s sixth sense for honoring treasured traditions while grooving to edgy beats.

Bluegrass innovators Mike Marshall on mandolin and Darol Anger on fiddle dreamed of jamming with the guys from Swedish instrumental trio Väsen after learning a few of their tunes from recordings. When they wound up on stage together one night, the five musicians realized how perfectly Appalachia’s fiddle tunes could intertwine with Swedish dances on the nyckelharpa. Transforming the sounds of their musical forefathers in the increasingly global spirit of folk, Marshall , Anger, and Väsen have discovered that for passionate musicians, the Atlantic is a bridge easily crossed. (Los Angeles premiere)

Gadji-Gadjo take their passion for the zesty sounds of Roma and klezmer-along with jazz and other beloved genres-and infuse it into soaring, elegant improvisations and songs with true joie-de-vivre. Based in Montreal and wryly referring to their non-Gypsy status in their name, the sextet moves effortlessly and irrepressibly through lightning-fast dances and playful choruses, paying merry homage to the myriad cultures that forged Eastern European Jewish and Gypsy music. (Los Angeles premiere)

[image2_right]The Wild Magnolias sound like the best down-and-dirty funk band you’ve ever heard. But they carry an entire history in their booty-shaking music and unforgettably flamboyant costumes. As Mardi Gras Indians, the Wild Magnolias represent the defiant demand for pride their African-American ancestors made when faced with the rising tide of racism in 19th-century New Orleans, as well as their gratitude to the Choctaws and other Native Americans who aided escaping slaves, effectively welcoming the stranger.

The night before the Wild Magnolias take the stage, the Skirball will screen Tootie’s Last Suit, an insightful documentary about late legendary Mardi Gras Indian Allison “Tootie” Montana, revered for turning Mardi Gras Indian life away from gang-style violence towards artistic accomplishment

Omar Faruk Tekbilek intuited the connection between prayer and music one afternoon while playing the flute as a child in Turkey. That connection has guided the masterful multi-instrumentalist ever since, as he evolved from sought-after young musician in Istanbul to immigrant blue-collar worker in the U.S. to world-recognized peacemaker and virtuoso. Tekbilek weaves melodies and songs from across the Eastern Mediterranean into stunning compositions reflecting the Sufi belief that all is one.

Buy the recordings by the artists featured: Mali Koura, Timbuktu and Sya by Issa Bagayogo; Rare Elements, Whirling, Fire Dance, Mystical Garden, One Truth, Crescent Moon, Tree of Patience, by Omar Faruk Tekbilek; They Call Us Wild by The Wild Magnolias; and Sur Le Toit Des Voisins by Gadji-Gadjo.


Rare Elements Focus on Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek -  Rare Elements
Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Rare Elements
Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Rare Elements – Omar Faruk Tekbilek (5 Points Records, 2009)

The Rare Elements remix series returns with a focus on one of the great masters of Middle Eastern music, Omar Faruk Tekbilek. Multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek has made some of the most memorable and beautiful recordings of modern Turkish music in recent years.

His style is characterized by mesmerizing Sufi-inspired vocals and richly melodic instrumental work using instruments such as [wiki:ney], [wiki:baglama] and [wiki:ud] (oud), as well as fiery dumbek percussion. Now Tekbilek’s music gets reconstructed by some of the masters of the current international remix scene. The participants include: Junior Sanchez, Tommie Sunshine, Flosstradamus, Amon Tobin, Albert Castillo, Nickodemus and Zeb, Kodomo, Joe Claussell, Cheb i Sabbah, and Jordan Lieb.

Each remixer brings a unique vision of Tekbilek’s music. Some, such as Tommie Sunshine, Albert Castillo, Junior Sanchez and Flosstradamus go in a dancefloor direction, adding techno beats and loops for the club scene, while others, such as Amon Tobin and Nickodemus go in a more mystical direction.

Joe Claussell’s mix is the most appealing, with his mesmerizing mix of acoustic instruments and dreamy vocals with ambient elements, percussion, richly creative pitch bending synthesizers and electronic atmospheres. “This is an opportunity to offer the younger generation phrases, words, rather than whole thing all at once. This is still good. It’s a connection with music lovers,” Tekbilek exclaims. “I am after taste, soul, and feeling. One note, but with feeling.”

Rare Elements – Omar Faruk Tekbilek is a delectable spicy blend of Middle Eastern mysticism with the best of creative remixing.

Buy the album:


Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble: Sacred Music of Turkey and the Middle East Will perform in San Francisco

Omar Faruk Tekbilek
Omar Faruk Tekbilek

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) Public Programs will presents Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble: Sacred Music of Turkey and the Middle East on Thursday, April 30, 8:00 PM, at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

Tekbilek, honored not only for his musical talents but also as a peacemaker, possesses an openness to music from all cultures that positions him an artist who transcends political obstacles while maintaining traditional sensibilities. He is considered a virtuoso on several instruments and a master of dozens more.

In a time when so many religious and cultural identities are thought to be in conflict Omar Faruk makes a point of crossing multiple boundaries and truly representing those who are not typically heard from in the mainstream media. “In a time when so many religious and cultural identities are thought to be in conflict,” says Public Programs Director Karim Baer, “Omar Faruk makes a point of crossing multiple boundaries and truly representing those who are not typically heard from in the mainstream media.”

Hailing from the southern Turkish city of Adana, multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek is a virtuoso on several instruments, including the nay (bamboo flute), zurna (double-reed oboe-like instrument), baglama (long-necked lute), and percussion.

Tekbilek has collaborated with a number of internationally acclaimed musicians including Don Cherry, Karl Berger, Ginger Baker, Ofra Haza, Simon Shaheen, Hossam Ramzy, Glen Velez, Bill Laswell, Mike Mainieri, Peter Erskine, Trilok Gurtu, Jai Uttal, and Steve Shehan, among others, and he has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. A brilliant interpreter of Sufi, folk, and contemporary music of the Middle East, he has recorded ten critically acclaimed CDs. His numerous accolades include a 2003 Best Artist of Turkish Music award from the Turkish Writers Association and a nomination for a 2003 BBC World Music Award. He has also contributed to numerous film and TV scores.

Buy Omar Faruk Tekbilek CDs: Tree of Patience.,  Mystical Garden, Whirling, Crescent Moon, One Truth, Fire Dance, Gypsy Fire Dance into Eternity: Selected Pieces 1987-1998, The Best of the Sultans, World Resonance – Cross Cultural Interpretations, and Rare Elements


Illuminating Sounds

Various Artists – Caravan of Light
Various Artists

Caravan of Light (Quango Music/Lua Productions LUA 110, 2007)

Nothing too pretentious here, just a selection of global music (subtitled Incantation) mixing the old and new, meant to permeate mind and spirit and likely to have you entranced or dancing depending on which track is cued up.

The opening "Fire Within" by Sussan Deyhim and Richard Horowitz rumbles like a Sufi meditation from the earth’s core, Maharaja’s "Maro Jailo (Piki Chapell Remix) gives a good idea of what qaawali would sound like in outer space, Turkish master musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek undergoes a techno makeover that doesn’t dampen his winning mysticism, and heartfelt offerings by Haale, Stephen Kent and Mercan Dede with Azam Ali are likewise alive with modern sparkle in the service of ancient soul.

Half the tracks are remixes, a fact that ought not deter purists. The intent on this disc is one of enhancement, not indulgent contemporary smothering.

Nicely paced and pleasingly varied, Caravan of Light journeys to many a well-lit place. Oh, and there’s an accompanying DVD, Initiation, which in the words of the liner notes is "A story told by Fire herself." Accompanied by a dozen minutes of enhanced footage of flames, sparks, embers, frame drumming and trodding feet in the Iranian desert, a poetic recitation on the nature of fire as a substance that can both help and harm is delivered.

Mankind is urged to choose its use of fire (literal and figurative) wisely. Rooted in Zoroastrianism but with a cautionary word for all, Caravan of Light is sufficiently spellbinding if a bit of a lark. Watch it as a mood-setter before listening to the music, which is what truly makes the 2-disc set worthwhile.

Buy Caravan of Light.