Tag Archives: Zein Al-Jundi

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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Artist Profiles: Zein Al-Jundi

Zein Al-Jundi

Zein Al-Jundi was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. She began singing professionally at the early age of five and over the next 12 years became a household name on Syria’s radio and TV channels as well as concert halls.

Upon finishing high school she chose to leave the music world behind and pursue and college education in the US. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she still resides and received an undergraduate degree in Architecture and completed the coarse work of a masters in Urban Design.

Discovering it was a passion that didn’t die in spite of years of not singing, Zein made the decision to go back to her music which has since taken more of a center stage in her life and what occupies her time.

November of 2004 marked the release of her first CD Traditional Songs from Syria on ARC Music. It was recorded in Cairo, Egypt with Hossam Ramzy producer.

Her CD Sharrafouni was released on her independent label WMD Productions Music. It was recorded mainly in Beirut, Lebanon and in Damascus, Syria as well as Cairo, Egypt with Zein herself as artistic and executive producer. Michel Fadel (of LBC’s Star Academy and world class pianist and composer/arranger) arranged the majority of the songs on the CD.

Ralph El Khoury (of The REG Project) did most of the mixing and sound engineering. Other people Zein was honored to work with on this CD include Tareq Abou Jawdeh, Elia Nasser, Andre Hajj, Tony Ja’ja’, Tony Barrak, Ali Mazbouh, Tony Haddad and more. Sharrafouni is also Zein’s debut as a composer and songwriter.

In addition to her music Zein is also the owner of The Arabic Bazaar & Zein’s Dance Studio that are located in Austin, Texas. The first being an import business and retail store of hand-crafted beautiful treasures from Syria, Egypt and Morocco…..the second is the school where she teaches her bellydance classes.

WMD Productions is the umbrella that covers all of Zein’s projects and the company thru which she produces her events of Arabic music and dance, including her own live music shows, the Arabic Hafleh and Austin’s Arabian Nights.

Discography:

Traditional Songs from Syria
Songs From Syria (ARC Music, 2004)
Sharrafouni

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