Music Reviews


A Tribute to Samy El Bably
Hossam Ramzy
ARC Music Int., 2002

Hossam Ramzy's CD, Secrets of the Eye was my first exposure to the use of the trumpet in Arabic music. Having grown up listening to "western" jazz, I have to admit that at first I thought the sound was a bit out of place, but within the first two minutes of the piece, I was hooked. Samy El Bably's smooth, almost languid style, and penchant for staying mostly towards the lower end of the instrument's range, put me in mind of the style of Al Hirt, and while Samy may never have done Honey in the Horn, his sound was sweet indeed.

Samy El Bably was born May 16, 1935 in a small village near Etsa in the El Fayoum province of Egypt. Expressing an interest in music very early on, he began formal study at age 10. It wasn't long before he was performing at local events and teaching music in his hometown. Although he had no teachers on the instrument in the style he played it, his love of the music of Sayed Darwich and Mohamed Abdel Wahab inspired him to develop his unique style and turn what is normally a "well tempered" instrument into a "very ethnic, heart-stealing 'creation machine'." Mohamed Abdel Wahab himself once said, "It sounds like an Egyptian Violin."

Hossam Ramzy says he first heard this "magnificent sound that mesmerized me" while listening to a piece of music by Ahmed Adaweya. His first impression was that, "It sounded like a hauntingly deep nay bamboo flute mixed with a violin, in a uniquely fresh style I had never come across before." He goes on to say in the liner notes: "...the whole world exists in Samy's trumpet sound. He can take you on a journey from Egypt to the darkest corners of black Harlem, to India, Turkey, South America, back to the back streets of Cairo and from there straight to the Sahara desert... while you are sitting comfortably sipping a cup of hot, sweet Egyptian coffee."

Unfortunately, this great artist's life was cut short when he died in a car crash while driving from El Fayoum to Cairo for a recording session. Paraphrasing the headlines announcing the death of Miles Davis, Mr. Ramzy writes, "An Arabian trumpet is silenced forever."

This tribute collection includes some previously released pieces as well as two that are heard here for the first time. Asrar El Ein and Maalehsh were both originally released on Secrets of the Eye, while Mannbaa Innar can also be found on Source of Fire, and Naima's Desert Castle was previously released on Modern Egyptian Belly Dance. The first track on the CD, Waheshny, which is heard here for the first time, was meant to be included in a follow up album to the Ramzy/Thornton collaborations Eternal Egypt and Immortal Egypt.

All of the pieces on this CD feature the extraordinary trumpet work of Samy El Bably, but numerous other talented musicians also contribute, many of whom can be found on previous Hossam Ramzy releases. Among them are Prof. Maged Serour, (featured on Qanun El Tarab) on qanun, Mamdouh El Gebaly (Best of Farid Al Atrash) on oud, Farouq Ombor (Baladi Plus) and Farouq Mohammed Hassan (Gamaal Rawhany) on quarter tone accordion, as well as a couple of well-known saxophone players, Rafat Misso and Mostafa Sax.

Some of the selections on this CD are a bit more sophisticated and introspective than many of Mr. Ramzy's other works produced with dancers in mind, such as Baladi Plus, but over all I think fans of Mr. Ramzy, fans of Middle Eastern music in general, and even most jazz aficionados, will find A Tribute to Samy El Bably to be a very enjoyable addition to their collections. (All the royalties from the sale of this album will go to the family of Samy El Bably.)

Various Artists
Virgin France, 2001

This special 4-CD compilation covers some of the most pivotal proponents of Rai: Cheb Mami, Cheb Khaled, Cheb Hasni, the Orchestre National de Barbes and a score of others. There is an average of 15 tracks per CD. Some CDs are more laid back then others, while some urge you to find a freedom march to join! Rai also makes great ambient music, but the politics are still there. I like CD #2 more then #1, it has a good bit more boogie to it and no. 3 "Lemouima" I really love! CD #3 also has several good jam-up pieces. On CD #4 I love #4, Cheb Mam's voice gives me shivers. #6 with Malik really groove as #8 with Cheikha Rabia as well as many others. One of the best compilations of Rai out there.

Karim Nagi
Produced and Distributed by Nourhan Sharif, 2004

I had the pleasure of both meeting and taking an Egyptian Tabla class with Karim Nagi at Artemis and Tayyar's Music and Dance Camp in Pennsylvania. Karim is an excellent percussionist, an excellent teacher, and his particular style of Arabic Folk Dance must be experienced to be believed! He put together this CD in conjunction with Nourhan Sharif and the Egyptian Academy of Oriental Dance to help dancers and musicians increase their repertoire by introducing them to some of the often forgotten traditional Arabic rhythms.

From the title it might be assumed that this CD is just for dancers, but it is also an ideal source of inspiration for any percussionist who is feeling a little bored by the same old 4/4 over and over again. (Dum-dum teka-tek dum teka-tek teka, until you start to froth at the mouth and fall over backwards.) After a very informative introduction, Karim introduces us to the rhythms York Sama'i (6/8), Dawr Hindi (7/8), Masmudi Kabir (8/4), Aqsaq Afrangi (9/8), Sama'i Thaqil (10/8), 'Awis (11/4), Mudawar Masri (12/4), Muraba'a (13/4), and Mahajjar (14/4). The CD then concludes with two drum solos. (Total playing time is 1:15:15.)

The production work on this CD is first rate with Karim playing Arabic Tabla, Riqq, Segat (large Zills), Dhola, and Bass Drum. Karim is also responsible for the musical arrangements, concept, text, and narration. The CD is available from the Egyptian Academy of Oriental Dance website at Samples can be heard at Karim's Turbo Tabla site at

Hollywood Music Center, 1999

"Afrah Baladna Said, The Joy of Our City Said," presents the improvised exclamation of joy, expressed by the common people of Said, usually at festivals or gatherings in open fields and streets."  The 14 tracks on this CD represent some of the best Saidi music since Aischa Ali's Anthropological Recordings. Performed and recorded in Cairo, instrumentation includes tabla, dhola, mizmar, and rababa. This is a "must have" for any musical library.

A Tribute Composed and Performed by Ali Jihad Racy
Lyrichord Discs Inc.

This is a very well known recording by the respected Ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy. It was inspired by The Egyptian Book of the Dead and the ancient treasures of Tutankhamen, and it was first performed for the King Tutankhamen Exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum in 1978. There are liner notes with the recording, which help explain the instruments used and the intent of the artist. Dr. Racy, who is a virtuoso on the Nay and Buzuq, as well as playing the Violin, Rababah, Daff and Arghul, makes good use of modern over-dubbing to create an inspired and haunting recording. The titles are as evocative as the pieces themselves, The Lamentations of Isis, The Land of the Blessed, Hymn to Osiris, The Boat of a Million Years, The Holy Lotus, Funeral Procession, Hymn for the Sunrise and The Triumph of the Deceased. All of them are beautiful and entrancing.

Aboudi Badawi
Aboudi Badawi, 2003

Maqams are similar to western scales. There are a lot of maqams but this recording presents some of the more popular. The maqam examples given are: Ajam, Hejaz, Nahawand, Bayat, Rast, Kurd, Saba, and finally, Sika. This CD is available from the Egyptian Academy of Oriental Dance.

Hollywood Music Center, 2000

This is another great example of Saaidi music. There are12 tracks all together which feature all the traditional instruments associated with the dances of the Ghawazii, Mizmar, Nay, Rababa, mjwiz, Kawala, Dhola, Tabla, and Daf.

Hossam Ramzy
ARC Music Int., 1995

The musicians are:
Hossam Ramzy - Tabla, Requ, Doholla, Duf, Mazhar, Sagat, Triangle
Essam Rashad - Oud
Farouq Ombor - Quarter Tone Accordion
Hasanin - Soprano Mizmar
Mehammaden - Bass Mizmar
Abdelsalam - Rebaba

Opening with a soul stirring Rebaba taxim, Baladi Plus just gets better and better.

  1. "Night Foal", the opening piece, is a mesmerizing taxim on Rebaba and Mizmar 2:27
  2. Arabian Knights is a "rock on" Saaidi composition inspired by the famous dancing Arabian Stallions. This is the music I associate with the Ghawazii dancers and I can't resist dancing to it every time I hear it. I especially enjoy dancing with my cane on this one. 8:28
  3. Mashalla is a percussive piece focusing on the Masmoudi and Maqsum rhythms. It's very hard to sit still when Hossam Ramzy plays! A good drum solo piece. 8:04
  4. Alla Hai is a lovely heavy, pulsing Zaar. 6:55
  5. Baladi we Hetta is a very Mohammed Ali Street selection with it's hot accordion taxims and the driving rhythm. I can easily imagine Lucy dancing to this. 9:16
  6. Wahda We Bas is a combination of the rhythms Wahda Kebira and Samaai which is referred to in the liner notes as "food for the soul" and I find that very appropriate. The piece has the flow of a Chifti and features beautiful oud taxims and crisps clear drumming. 7:08
  7. Malfuf Ala Westi is a great dance piece featuring the accordion again accompanying the Malfuf rhythm which the liner notes say is the standard rhythm for stage entrances or exits. 7:10
  8. Roah Albi is a great driving drum solo with a lot of exciting changes and is very reminiscent of the finale piece of Ramzey's Rhythms of the Nile recording. This is good drumming!

Hossam Ramzy
ARC Music Int., 1995

This album is a tribute to Farid Al Atrash, the man known to Arab musicians as the greatest oud player of his time - the King of the Oud. Born in Lebanon in 1915, Farid was the son of Princess Alia and Prince Fahd Al Atrash. Due to political reasons, Farid's mother was forced to flee to Egypt with her three children in 1923. As a young teenager, Farid began to use his talent as an oud player, which he had learned from his mother, as a way of helping out his family. He managed to get a contract with the band of Badi Masabni, infamous female owner of one of the most famous nightclubs on Imad al-Din Street in the Ezbekiyya area of Cairo, and in 1934, the Egyptian Broadcasting Authority began to air some of his oud solos each week. Farid went on to compose more than 500 songs and produce over 31 films before his death in 1974. (For more information on Farid Al Atrash see

Musicians include:
Hossam Ramzy - Egyptian Tabla, Reque, Percussion
Prof. Maged Serour - Quanoon
Mamdouh El Gebaly - Oud
Farouq Mohammed Hassan - Quarter Tone Accordion
Dr. Mahmoud Effat - Nay
Dr. Saad Mohammed Hassan - 1st Violin
Dr. Saaid El Asbgy - Violin
Dr. Omar Farahat - Violin
Dr. Reda Ragab - Violin
El Amir Abdul Hamid - Cello
Taha Essayed Taha - Cello
Walid Fayed Mohammed Fayed - Keyboards and Bass
Mohammedayyad - Duff

  1. Yahliw (You Little Beauty) [8:20] - Beginning with a wonderful accordion taxim which transitions into a medium tempo 4/4 melody interspersed with instrumental solos on nay, quanoon, oud, and violin, this piece is dedicated to Lucy Yahliwa, esteemed dancer and star of the stage and screen. This is a fine example of Farid's great dance melodies.
  2. Ma Alli Wi-Oltilo (She Told Me and I Told Her) [10:12] - More lively and up-tempo than the first track, this is an often heard and easily recognized piece featuring solos on quanoon, accordion, nay, violin, and before wrapping up, transitions into a ciftiteli rhythm for some intricate oud work. This famous song is about how Farid and his beloved have crossed all barriers by expressing their undying love to each other, and the jealousy of those who don't want them together.
  3. Farid Al Atrash [8:36] - Featuring Mamdouh El Gebaly, one of today's great oud players, this piece begins with a 3:25 oud taxim, then transitions into a medium tempo masmoudi rhythm with accompaniment on bass, tabla and reque. But the oud definitely carries this piece, as you would expect with a piece dedicated to the man considered to be The King of the Oud. This piece expresses the love Farid had for his instrument.
  4. Gamil Gamal (Such Beauty) [7:25] - Another piece which dancers will quickly recognize, this is an instrumental version of the song from the 1952 movie "Lahn El Kholood" in which Farid shared the leading role with Lady Fatin Hamama (then the wife of Omar El-Sharif), and Katherine Hepburn. This is a very good rendition of this piece, however I must admit that I do miss the vocals of the original quite a bit.
  5. Ya Wahishny Rod Allaya (I'm Missing You, Please Answer My Calls) [12:02] - This straight-ahead, medium tempo 4/4 piece, composed by Farid but made famous by vocalist Moharram Fouad, a protege of Mohammed Abdul Wahab, features more solo work by the accomplished musicians gathered together on this album tied together by the driving rhythms of Mr. Ramzy. "My heart's greeting (Salamat), oh how I'm missing you."
  6. El Hayah Helwa (Life Is So Beautiful) [6:50] - This lively, festive piece is punctuated throughout with the zaghareeting of women, a sound often heard at weddings and celebrations. It alternates between full volumed, quick tempoed orchestrated sections, and quieter, more lilting solo sections. This song says, "Life is a song, how lovely are its lyrics they melt my heart."

Various Artists
EMI Music, 2001

A compilation of different slightly edgy pop with a couple of remix pieces mixed in. Well done and fun.

Issam Houshan
Issam Houshan, 2004

Issam is an expert percussionist and he has put together a recording with wonderful tabla solos and drum rythms. There's no instruction on the CD because he teachs workshops and created this recording for his students as a play along, that supports what he teaches. The rhythms Issam so expertly presents are: Saidii, Wahda Kabira, Maksoom, Malfoof, Masmoudi Soghayar, Masmoudi, Balady, Fallahi, Ayoub, Karatchi, Morrocan, Rasba, Zaffa, and Khaliji. He also has 3 drum solos and all of the pieces are a dream to dance to. A must have!

Live at the Giza Club - SuSu & the Cairo Cats
The Aswan Dancers, Inc., 1991

In the past Veshengo and I have been quite active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and it was at a Pennsic War that I first heard these drum songs. There were an awful lot of merchants that year and as we strolled from stall to stall we'd hear snatches of the hottest drumming. It wasn't long before I asked a merchant who it was, and it was even less time before I strolled out of a stall with my own copy. I tried to find another copy at the end of the week but every single one had been sold. This is a recording like no other.

Side One was recorded live at the Giza Club, San Francisco in 1991 and is composed of five different Drum arrangements by SuSu Pampanin. These are incredible drum solos intended to be songs in their own right and they are steaming hot! I played this tape to someone who once thought drums shouldn't be thought of as "real" musical instruments because he didn't think they could create a melody. He was suitably impressed after listening to side one, and it's not often one gets to impress one's Father (oops, don't tell him I told you). If you like percussion you'll love this! One of Madam Mozuna's all time favorites.

Side Two begins with a full Oriental Cabaret routine, called Tabeli ya Susu, written by Houda el Artiste. This set is wonderful, I just love Susu's song, I sing this talented young lady's praises too! The tape ends with a beautiful, peaceful piece called Aswan Drum Trance. In my humble opinion this tape is a must have. Quality through and through!

Ofra Haza
Sire/Warner Bros., 1989

Offra was one of the first successful cross-over artist, mixing modern beats with traditional rhythms, modern bass with tradition Middle Eastern Orchestration, traditional musical instruments fused with modern music and remix methods. She also has the voice of a dark angel and a strong sense of heritage. Ofra was born in Yemen in 1957 and her family traveled by foot to Israel, loosing most of their belonging in route. While growing up, Ofra's fame as a singer grew until she received the equivalent of the Grammy in 1986 after many silver and gold recordings. In 1986 she was musically compelled to return to her Yemeni roots and this is her first offering mixing the traditional with more modern (western) music. One of the first fusion recordings. Although dear, beautiful, Ofra has died, her heart still sings to me and the rhythms still move my feet to dance. May her words of love and family lead us all to a better life! Ofra's amazing life was cut tragically short and was a sad loss to the dance community.

Farid al Atrash
Cairophon, 1994

This is my favorite Farid Al Atrash recording because it has him singing my favorite song Gamil Gamal the melody of which he took from an old Saa'adi song. There are several other great songs on this CD. It's a wonderful introduction to the popular dance music of the 1940's.

Ofra Haza
Shanachie Records, 1989

Ofrah Haza is was very proud to be a Yemenite (just look at that incredible cover) and after great success she was musically compelled in 1986 to return to her Yemeni roots and ancestral home, this is her first offering mixing the traditional with more modern (western) music. One of the first fusion recordings. Theses are social songs, wedding and festival songs. If you listen closely you can hear the traditional cookie sheets used as percussion pieces. Ofra was one of a kind!

Natacha Atlas
Mantra Recordings, 1998

Natacha is the Queen of tripped-out Belly Dance. She Belly Dances in performance so she knows what dancers like. Her voice is like velvet and her attitude is sexy, sultry, self-assured and seductive. She's simply hot, hot, hot!

Featuring Richard Hagopian and Omar Faruk Tekbilek
Traditional Crossroads, 1995

This recording is loaded with talent! Artist from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and America join together to create a recording reminiscent of the New York club scene of the Fifties. A wonderful mixing of Gypsy, Arabic, Armenian, Turkish, Greek and Jewish music. This is great dance music.

  1. Rompi, Rompi [4:06] Richard sings this lively Karsilama and is backed up by some wonderful Kanun and some Killer Saxophone. This is a classic party piece!
  2. Nihavent [4:46] This is an instrumental piece in which Tekbilek shows off his melodic and lilting Ney. Again the Kanun is beautifully played by Hasan Iskut. Grab your veil for this one.
  3. Istemem Babacim [4:06] This is a lively song with great Sax and Oud
  4. Kadife[5:05] This is a great syncopated song. Fun to dance to.
  5. Muhabbet [8:12] This is a nice long set with lovely Taxims that flow between the Oud, Kanun and Violin.
  6. Minoush [3:34] This is another fun little song you'll enjoy dancing to.
  7. Fincan [4:32] This song is a little slower but it's still a skirt swinger and the Sax is very soulful!
  8. Konyali [2:31] This is an old favorite I'm sure you'll recognize, you might even be able to sing along.
  9. Beledy [3:03] This piece has Tekbilek playing a Zurna which will transport you right to the banks of the Nile. Put on your Sagat and dance like the Gawazii!
  10. Siseler [4:59] This is another old favorite with more killer Sax by Yuri Yunakov and fabulous violin by Harold Hagopian. This song is so bright and happy it's a great piece to end a memorable party!

Fareed Al Atrash

This is a very old recording, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. There are some instrumental pieces, an amazing live oud performance, and lively songs replete with zaghareets!

Duduk Music from Armenia
Djivan Gasparyan
Opal Records, Warner Brothers Records, 1989

The Duduk is a style of Nay and Djivan Gasparyan is a master of the Duduk! This recording is absolutely beautiful. It is so lilting, ethereal and poignant that you are quickly transported to a world both exotic and soothing. Everyone I have ever played this for has fallen in love with it! Djivan is accompanied by Vachagan Avakian on the Dam, which is a drone Duduk. There are 8 tracks for a total of almost 40 minutes. Each as beautiful as the other. This album was dedicated to Life Aid Armenia and it's work for the survivors of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia.

Hossam Ramzy and Phil Thorton
New World Music Ltd., 1998

This was a groundbreaking recording, one of the first to fuse Middle Eastern music with Techno club music. I don't know how many copies of this recording I've given away, all my friends love it. It's almost impossible to pick my favorite piece but two of my favorites are Moroccan Dance and the final and title cut Immortal Egypt. Moroccan Dance usually sends me whirling around in ecstatic turning but Immortal Egypt is far too impressive, amazing and powerful to simply spin to it. This piece instantly brings to mind the vast majesty of the deserts of Egypt and then transports you into an ancient Temple where you take part in an ancient ritual of dance. This piece has sent me seeking a pair of sistrum so that I might express how moved I am by this "Egypta".

Various Artists
Hollywood Music Center, 2001

This is another great collection of percussion pieces with several different artists showing off their magical fingers.

MAROC Moyen - Atlas: Musique sacree et profane
Ocoro, 1989

This recording offers 4 very long drum pieces from Morocco. It's wonderful to practice with as well as listen too.

Presented by Hossam Ramzy
ARC Music, Int., 2004

This is a wonderful lilting introduction to one of the oldest instruments in the world. Beloved in Egypt, the Nai or Arabian flute is so dynamic that you’d never think of it as a simple pastoral instrument. Simply beautiful.

Lyrichord Discs, Inc.

With a title like "Moroccan Street Music" you might expect poor recording quality, but the sound reproduction here is surprisingly crisp and clear. In the traditional market places of Morocco one can always find an open square with musicians playing and some of the most popular street artists and songs are featured here, accompanied by well written liner notes.

  1. L-Mirikan, was written in the 1940's and is historically political. It's performed with good rhythmic Oud and plaintive vocals. 5:13
  2. L-Awasaf is a generic term for folksongs from the region around Marrakech. Featuring Oud and vocals this piece is rather long by American standards, but Moroccan folksongs are often very long, which make them wonderful for trance work. 9:00
  3. 'Awisha is another folksong, which in comparison with the two previous selections is very light and lively. This piece features, the Darabuka, the et-ta'rija (a small hour-glass shaped drum with snares which is played held in the hand as opposed to under the arm), the Bendir and vocals. This piece is very danceable with a fun racing finale. 8:27
  4. Nehjuba features Darabuka, Oud, Tar and vocals and is another lively folk dance with several changes in tempo. This is an extremely long selection that lasts 15:30.
  5. Muqaddima, a Blessing or Introduction. It's customary for street musicians receiving donations to express their appreciation before they offer a prayer to a particular Saint asking for a blessing for themselves and their benefactor. 00:24
  6. Sala am 'aliha is a traditional wedding song from the Tafilalet region with the Bendir as the prominent instrument. A wonderful example of communal music which in a village setting might be supported by as many a thirty singers. 5:53

Fat Chance Belly Dance, 1994

The rhythms offered here as simple and fairly long and for some monotonous but they are perfect for practicing any Belly Dance not just Tribal Style. The rhythms offered are Maqsoum, Karachi, Frame drum, Moroccan Six, Baladi(they mean maqsoum), and Ayoob.

Mango, 1993

This is my favorite Khaled recording; there's a difference here from most Rai recordings. Khaled takes things to the edge making the most of modern recording ability. This recording is almost hypnotic at times, funky almost jazzy at other times. Khaled was one of the first and still one of the most unique of the Rai performers.

Free Planet Radio
Free Planet Radio, 2004

"The shared vision of three multi-instrumentalists exploring the infinite and seamless relationships between musical cultures through the universal language of sound." This is the mission statement from the liner-notes, and fairly accurately describes the feel of this CD. Through the use of a mix of eastern and western instruments along with hand-claps, rattles and bells, Free Planet Radio has created a sound that is an eclectic mix of eastern maqams and rhythm structures with a definite western jazz flavor somewhere between Mahavishnu John Mc Laughlin's Shakti and Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters. Free Planet Radio is made up of Chris Rosser on strings and keyboards, River Guerguerian on percussion, and Eliot Wadopian on acoustic and electric bass. Tracks include:

  1. Garden of the Beloved (9:36)
  2. Seventh Crossing (9:11)
  3. Bodhisattva (2:00)
  4. New Bedouin Dance (5:50)
  5. Lalit's Friend (8:02)
  6. Radio Asheville (6:11)
  7. Alap for Parshuram (4:25)
  8. Holly's Groove (2:19)
  9. Logic and Logos (6:12)

David Macejka
Richi Records, 2003

This is another exciting collection of percussion pieces for dancers. He covers more than 13 different rhythms and his sound is very unique. A lot of fun.

Hossam Ramzy and Maged Serour
ARC Music Int., 2002

Musicians include:
Hossam Ramzy - Egyptian and World Percussion
Professor Maged Serour - Qanun
Osama El Hendy - Keyboards, Sequencer Programming, Bass Guitar, Quarter Tone Accordion
Nabil Bergaz - Nay
Mohamaddein Hendy - Mizmar
Aziz Jorge - Solo Violin
Salah Ragab - Double Bass

This is the third release in a series focusing on the individual solo instruments used in Arabic music. (The first two were Ahlamy which featured Rafat Misso on saxophone, and El Amar which featured Mohsen Allam on quarter tone accordion.) As its name implies, this CD features pieces showcasing the qanun, a plucked psaltry or zither, similar to a western hammered dulcimer, having a trapezoid body with one rectangular side and 25 to 29 sets of multi-coursed strings which are plucked with two short plectrums attached to the index finger of each hand.

Mr. Ramzy always features some of the finest musicians on his albums and this, his latest work, is no exception. The qanun player on this CD, Professor Maged Serour, has played on a number of Mr. Ramzy's previous releases, including Source of Fire, Secrets of the Eye and The Best of Farid Al Atrash. He is originally from Cairo, graduated from the High Institute for Arabian Musical Studies, has received numerous awards for his skill on the qanun, and has also worked on many Egyptian film scores.

In addition to the original works by Mr. Ramzy and Prof. Serour, the selections on this CD include pieces by the Egyptian composers Mohamed El Mougy, Karem Mahmoud, and Mohamed Fawzy, among others, and are an excellent mix of the "classic" (from the 30's, 40's and 50's) and the "modern" raks al sharki type sound. The obvious exception being the last track, Mon Amour, which is a rather melancholy piece by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. Gentle and poignant, it is the slowest piece on the CD and has an almost Moorish feel to it. It seems to express a longing for samar: "In the shadows of the moon, the lovers fade into their cosmic origins and become part of the shimmering sky."

Many of Mr. Ramzy's recent works have been released with the bellydancer and student musician in mind. Having brought together a group of outstanding musicians to produce a collection of pieces showcasing both superior musicianship and excellent recording quality, Qanun El Tarab should appeal to any fan of Arabic music and dance.

EMI Music Arabia, 2001

There are 10 cuts on this jammin' recording. The first piece will have you on your feet and the melodies sound so familiar, and yet... Driving beats and high energy make this one irresistible!

Presented by Hossam Ramzy
Arc Music, 2000

Rahhal translates as 'traveler' and this recording is by a group of traveling muscians who are said to be currently living 65 miles into the Egyptian desert west of the small village of Janaklees. These muscians travel up and down the Nile and through out the country playing for weddings, festivals and religious celebrations. There are more vocals on this recording than any other featuring Hala Mahmoud (she's only 14) Awad Saber andMostafa Abdalla. There are ten tracks totaling 79:02 minutes.

Natacha Atlas
Mantra Recordings, 2000

If you like DJ spun Techno club as well as Middle Eastern music then this is the recording for you. Great for parties, Natacha rules! Natacha was born in Belgium and is of Egyptian, Palestinian and Moroccan descent. She has lived in Brussels, Egypt, Greece and England. 
Early in her career she began an association with Transglobal Underground, a multi-cultural group based in London who created a fusion combining electronica, dub, hip-hop and funk with Indian, African and Middle Eastern music. Transglobal Underground are thought by many to have been significant role models for the current 'world dance' phenomenon.

Eventide Music Productions, 1999

Solace is Jeremiah M. Soto and he has created a good practice recording, especially if you are into Tribal Style. The rhythms offered are:Beledi (they mean Maqsoum), Chifte-telli, Masmoudi, Beledi 2, Saidi, Karshlima, Zar Dance (Ayyub), Sword Dance, Moroccan, Shoush and finally Laz.

RHYTHMS OF THE NILE - Introduction to Egyptian Dance Rhythms
Hossam Ramsey
ARC Music International

This two CD set is Hossam's first instructional production. On the first CD Hossam introduces each instrument used then offers a rhythm and its time signature followed by samples of the rhythm. The focus on the first CD is the rhythms. On the second CD he goes into much greater detail on understanding the instruments and how they are played. Here he covers Masmoudi I & II, Maqsoum, Saaidi, Fallahi, Zaar, Malfuf, Karachi, Elzaffa, a 3/4 rhythm, Samaai, Abu el Khamsa and a final rhythmic combination which is over 10 minutes long.

Turkish Rom and Regional Music of Thrace
Traditional Crossroads, 2000

This is a fabulous recording, which I enjoy listening to as much as dancing to! This is genuine Turkish Romanni music, well recorded and vibrantly played. If you're interested in Turkish Romanni style music and dance this is the recording for you. Extensive liner notes explain the development of the regional music of Turkish Thrace.

The musicians are:
Selim Sesler - Clarinet, Voice
Nusret Sute - Violin
Turan Gumus - Cumbus, Voice
Bulent Sesler - Kanun
Ramadan Borozan - Davul
Selahattin Kocan - Darabuka, Daire, Davul

  1. Kiremit bacalari/Nasti usava - Kiremit bacalari ("brick chimneys") and Nasti usava (he can't get up) are typical and familiar Romanni dance pieces, used to open the public portion of a wedding. This first track is a wonderful medium speed karsilama that I find irresistible. If you enjoy dancing in the solo Turkish Romanni style called "Gobek atma" (throwing the belly) you'll be up and on your feet before the ninth beat! Selim Sesler's clarinet is glorious. My goodness that man can play. Bulent Sesler's kanun is sweet and rich yet nicely staccato and Nusret Sute's violin has a very pastoral rough wooden sound that blends beautifully with the lush tones of the clarinet. Ramadan Borozan keeps the rhythm driving with the heavy beat of his davul, throbbing like the heart of the world. 5:08
  2. Kina havasi/Gelin alma havasi - Kina havasi, sung while henna is being applied to the bride, is a melancholy song expressing the family's sorrow at the loss of a beloved daughter. Gelin alma havasi is a melody played to accompany the Bride's procession to her new home. These are instrumental versions. Kina havasi, which opens with a short poignant clarinet taxim, is definitely melancholy and although Gelin alma havasi picks the pace up a little bit it's minor chord structure and periodic hints of a Chifti really pulls at the old heartstrings. 4:50
  3. Bir sari yilan - Traditionally listened to, Bir sari yilan is a Greek drinking table song, which describes a bride's unusual source of dowry. The men are singing and playing at the same time on this track, demonstrating their virtuosity with both their voices and instruments. This is a slow almost stately piece, with poignant vocalizations. 6:28
  4. Ali pasa - This is another listening melody commonly requested at weddings. (How in the world can one be expected to not dance to this?) It begins with a free form intro. in which the clarinet trills, soars and flits about like a maniacal woodland bird and never really looses that wild energy I love so much. 3:40
  5. Biber yedim - This is a drinking song and some songs shouldn't be translated - 'nough said. The melody is familiar and this quick Karsilama is known locally as a duz (straight) karsilama. This is a great piece for ziling and dancing. 3:01
  6. Aci Meleke - This is an extremely interesting dance melody in an unusual 16/8 meter. Great for Gobek atma. 2:58
  7. Babo - This is a dance performed by men, but I like to dance to it too. It's very poignant yet high energy and it speeds up nicely at the end. 2:40
  8. Istafalka/gelserek/Arzu ile Kamber - This is a medley reflecting the cultural fusion of the area. The rhythm is a 7/8, which most often accompanies fast dances. Very bright and up beat this is another dancing must. I find the clarinet very flirtatious and charming and the rhythm irresistible. This one makes me smile. 3:19
  9. Tulum - Giving me visions of Artemis Mourat, this one slow Karsilama was worth the cost of the CD. This is a classic slow Karsilama with hot Clarinet, incredible Qanun, thrilling Violin and a solid pounding rhythm. As is traditional, each instrument has it's own solo in free-meter style, which for me equates to a taxim. 4:58
  10. Patrona/Samiotisa - These are two dance pieces that feature a locally crafted Daire (a large frame drum with zils affixed). I love these plaintive yet flirtatiously happy melodies. Very, very danceable! 3:16
  11. Hanim Ayse - This is popular duz Karsilama, based on the melody line of a local folk song (turku). 3:13
  12. Sari gulum var benim/ mahmut Koy Karsilamasi - This is a medley of drinking table music. 8:37
  13. Nikriz sirto - The sirto dance is popular with Greek immigrants, this sirto is played in the makam Nikriz. This piece is traditionally played to signal the end of wedding festivities. This is a very pleasant syncopated piece with a familiar melody line. 2:54
  14. Alay Bey - This is an instrumental piece derived from a vocal model and is played in a slow 10/4. This piece always reminds me of a New Orleans style funeral durge. Very dramatic! 3:40
  15. Kampana mori Mitro - This is also an instrumental version of a vocal piece and features only clarinet and davul. This is a flirtatious and celebratory piece, a fine example of Thracian wedding music. 2:14

Hossam Ramsey
ARC Music International

In a clear and concise recording Hossam Ramzy presents several familiar Egyptian percussion instruments; the Tabla (doumbec or darabucka), the Mazhar, the Duf, the Reque, the Doholla and the Sagat and Toura, as well as 5 basic rhythms; Masmoudi, Maqsoum, Malfuf, Zaar, Fallahi, and Saaidi. Hossam is very personable, friendly and encouraging in his explanations, but he's always at his best when playing and play he does! Each rhythm is explained and then an example is provided culminating in a wonderful jam session which utilizes all the rhythms on the recording and most of the instruments mentioned. This is a good source of information for students, both drummers and dancers and the finale jam session is definitely "performance" worthy. (Note: This is the single CD version of "Rhythms of the Nile reviewed above.)

SHAKE ME YA GAMAL - Hot Tabla Solos
Gamal Goma
Hollywood Music Center, 2001

These are great drum solos which were composed so that each pieced focused on one rhythm. Just try to stay still when you hear this recording! The rhythms presented are: Saidi, Malfoof, Maqsum, Ayyoub, Khaliji, Fallahi and the final track is a combination of rhythms. These really are Hot Tabla solos!

Eddie (the Sheik) Kochak and Hakki Obadia
Eddie Kochak, 1983

Originally recorded in the seventies, these recordings are truly timeless. Renowned percussionist Eddie Kochak first met incredible violinist Hakki Obadia in 1954 while working on sessions for the Port Said album with Mohammed El Bakkar. Hakki, originally from Baghdad, began playing the violin at age six and wrote his first composition at age 11. Proficient on the piano, guitar, mandolin and oud, Hakki was also a founder of the first symphony orchestra in Baghdad and for a number of years was it's concert master. In the United States he is recognized as an authority on Arabic music theory and has appeared as a soloist and conductor at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Philharmonic Hall and Chicago Opera House. Mr. Obadia once explained in an interview with Phyllis Saretta, the process he and Mr. Kochak went through when preparing to record one of their Ameraba recordings. They would begin with the melody line and if it fit with an Arabic style of maqam, that's what they used. If the melody line fit minor-major then they played minor-major. The rhythm would command what style of dance should accompany the piece. He described how the musical arrangement would already be agreed upon before they entered the recording studio. At least in terms of how many measures or units there would be used, making these selections a pleasure to choreograph. They were careful to not use odd numbers; both believing this would make the music easier for a beginning dancer to interpret. However they are a joy to dance to whether you are a beginning dancer or a well-seasoned professional.

Vol. 1 - This is one of my favorites!
The musicians are:
Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak - Rhythm Tempos
Hakki Obadia - Violin
Mazin "Saleem" Hamdan - Oud
Joseph Kassab - Kanoon
George Marge - Woodwinds
Chuck "Khaleel" Hallal - Derbekee
Ibrahim "Bobby" Farrah - Zils
George Mell - Bass
Fred Elias - Violin

Full Dance Routine
Side 1

  1. Medium/Fast (3:15) - This is a good quick intro. Fun to zil with and lends itself well to Turkish Style dance with it's heavy drum accents and breaks in the music. There's even a drum solo, though the piece is short.
  2. Dance (Rhumba) Baghdad (5:33) - This is one of my favorite Bolero melody lines which lasts long enough to really make your veil work interesting. I also enjoy playing my zils to this. I just love this piece.
  3. Medium 2/4 (2:00) - This is nice, fast, short and sweet. Great for traveling and Turkish steps and hops.
  4. Chifti Tempos (5:01) - This chifti will seriously melt your heart with it's soul shattering solos traded off between oud, nai and violin. This is really good music!
  5. Beledi (1:09) - This is a fun drum and zil solo, one that I know Artemis enjoys too.
  6. Medley Fast Tempos (1:09) - This is a very short, quick finale, the only melody line I can name is Eya Zien but the other two melodies are very familiar.

Full Dance Routine
Side 2

  1. Karsilama (3:14) - This is a wonderful fast karsilama with a fabulous Rom sound. Hakki's violin playing can even achieve that screaming accent I expect from Turkish Kamanche playing. There is also steaming hot Clarinet and Kanuan. Loads of fun to zil with.
  2. Medium (3:01) - This piece has that joyous Keff (party) sound. Perfect for Eva Cernik style hops, spins and level changes and I love a piece that speeds up at the finale. It's always such a fun challenge to keep up.
  3. Fast (3:50) - This is a fast Bolero which is another of my favorites, with very moving violin playing. This piece also speeds up into a fun little ending.
  4. Chifti (4:24) - This chifti begins with a sweet little oud taxim which transitions into a lovely medium/fast chifti which I enjoy dancing aggressive veil to.
  5. Fantasy (oud) (3:30) - This chifti also has a wonderful oud intro and with the chifti being heavily accented, this piece is perfect for floorwork.

Vol. 2
The musicians are:
Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak - Rhythm Tempos
Hakki Obadia - Violin
Mazin "Saleem" Hamdan - Oud
Joseph Kassab - Kanoon, Vocals
George Marge - Flute, Oboe, Woodwinds
Chuck "Khaleel" Hallal - Derbekee
Ibrahim "Bobby" Farrah - Zils
George Mell - Bass
Hanna Merhige - Derbekee, Tambourine
Mohamed El Accad - Kanoon

Full Dance Routine
Side 1

  1. Fast/Moderate Tempo (2:31) - This is a nice fast intro., with breaks for accenting with locks and drops.
  2. Chifti Sensual (Rhumba) (2:16) -The intro. segues into a great Rhumba. I love Eddie and Hakki's Rhumbas. They're so poignant and lush they often remind me of old Hollywood sound tracks. This piece always lulls me into daydreams of Cleopatra's golden barge slowly drifting down the moonlit Nile.
  3. Beledi Kwayes (1:29) - The chifti above segues into a short quick beledi, nice and lively.
  4. Takseems of Slow Chiftis (1:24) - The beledi transitions into a short sensual Chifti, which is perfect for an unveiling, or a little floor work.
  5. Rhythm Solos (2:02) - The chifti segues into a fun drum and zil solo, which picks up into a very sprightly beledi
  6. Tempos for Floorwork (1:01) - Now we slow down with a lovely oud taxim accompanied by violin and cello (the cello may surprise you but it fits beautifully).
  7. Ameraba Style Sheesh Kebob (1:59) - This piece jumps us into a really fast moving and heavily accented Sheesh Kabob, so much fun to dance to.
  8. Different Beledi (1:30) - This segues begins with a drum and zil solo which transitions into a killer piece with an authentic Fallahin sound.
  9. Moderate/fast Finale Toota (1:00) - This finale really sends you flying across the floor and is a delight to zil with.

Full Dance Routine
Side 2

  1. Medley of Songs sung by Joseph Kassab (11:31) - I recognized three different melodies, all sung beautifully by Mr. Kassab.
    • Beginning with a very pleasant and bouncy melody which transitions in to,
    • A sweet and poignant Sallam Alay, which speeds up very nicely at the end, bringing us to the last melody
    • Which is a happy and innocently flirtatious song at medium speed.
  2. Habeebee Afeefee sung by Eddie Kochak (3:28) - I absolutely love this little song so sweetly sung by Eddie. It begins with an oud taxim and non-meter singing by Eddie. Perfect for a veil intro. Then it speeds up in to a great rhythmic section that will send your hips flying and your zils ringing. A really fun song and one of my favorites.

Vol. 3
The musicians are:
Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak - Rhythm Tempos
Hakki Obadia - Violin
Feddie Elias - Violin
Mazin "Saleem" Hamdan - Oud
George Marge - Flute, Oboe, Woodwinds
Chuck "Khaleel" Hallal - Derbekee
George Mell - Bass
Sal Auglieri - Organ (Farfissa)
Don De Marco - Electric Guitar

Full Dance Routine - The transitions on this recording are not quite as smooth as on 1 & 2
Side 1

  1. Medley of 4/4 (2:33) - The melody lines in this medley are all very familiar and played at medium fast tempo, with a short drum solo.
  2. Rhumba for Veil Work (2:23) - I simply love all of Eddie and Hakki's Boleros. I'm a sucker for sentiment and emotion and these recordings always move me.
  3. Medium/Fast Beledi (1:07) - This is a good strong Beledi, high energy yet hypnotic, ending with a drum transition.
  4. Medley of Medium/Fast Tempos (3:01) - The high energy continues with a medley, which lends itself well to traveling moves or Turkish Style.
  5. Floor Work Slow Chifti (3:32) - This chifti is one of my all time favorites! Beautiful heart-felt Oud followed by Nai that is simply haunting and ethereal, like a bird singing after midnight. Then Eddie sings to us sweetly followed by Gypsy style Violin of incredible beauty!
  6. Faster Chifiti (1:56) - Great fast chifti, nice and bouncy.
  7. No Tempo Floor Work (1:40) - This is a short Nai taxim, which once heard will never be forgotten.
  8. Exciting (Mijwiz) Balady Finale - This is a killer Balady finale with droning Violin and Mijwiz. The ending is interesting, however as it sounds something like a sea chantey or stereotypical Gypsy song with the ubiquitous flourish as the finale. I don't know what style that is indicative of, but I'm trying to find out.

Side 2

  1. Medium Drums and Medley (1:23) - This is a fun, quick little intro.
  2. 4/4 Tempos and Chifitellis (2:50) - This piece begins with a good slow chifti, with Oud, Violin and Nai taxims. This transitions into a familiar 4/4 which is good for traveling, or innocent flirtation or communication with the audience.
  3. More Exciting Medley (3:52) - The piece above segues seamlessly into this medley, which might be good for Turkish hops, steps and kicks. This has a kicking Violin solo and the Oud is really, really good.
  4. Karsilama Ameraba (2:07) - This is a nice short Karsilama, which shows off Eddie's drumming skills.
  5. Beledi and 4/4 Tempos Finale (3:53) - This is a medium fast Beledi, good for traveling and zils, with nice bouncy Oud. I love good syncopated Oud. There's a good little drum solo then the same pseudo-Gypsy flourish finale.

The Art of Improvisation in Arabic Music
Ali Jihad Racy and Simon Shaheen
Lyrichord Discs, Inc.

This is a rare opportunity to hear extended Arabic Taqasims, played together by two virtuoso performers. Ali Jihad Racy plays Buzuq and Simon Shaheen plays Ud. Beautifully played, soothing yet evocative. This recording is simply lovely!

Side 1
Maqam Kurd [20:30]

Side 2
Maqam Nahawand [13:10]
Maqam Bayyati [8:53]

Istanbul Plak, Ltd., 1997
Universal Musc, 1999

Tarkan is a very talented, gorgeous singer from Turkey with a voice that could break a heart, but I like him best when he's being saucy. His super big hit is a song most dancers in America refer to as "Kiss, Kiss!" However there are several other tracks on this recording that are hard to resist. Kiss Kiss is fairly pop but with an edge, other edgy songs are Olorum Sana another angst filled song of love domination. Bu Gece has a real 'House' sound to it and is a great remix. Sikidim is more Popish and reminds me of Kiss, Kiss in some way but I still like it. Unut Beni is more like a standard American love song; I can here Dan Fogelberg singing it or one of the new boy bands. Then it's followed by Inci Tanem, which sounds very sad and poignant. Boy is Tarkan HOT! There are other pieces on this recording but you don't need some one else describing them BUY THIS RECORDING it's one of the best!

Let me describe Kiss Kiss for you, beginning with a nice sweet swacking kiss, then a driving beat and Tarkan's slippery vocals quickly tell you why Kiss Kiss has become a huge success. What most dancers don't know is the translation, Tarkan sings in his native Turkish. Here is a translation. You may be surprised what it really means.


She takes another man by the arm
She makes me look like a fool once more
She blows bubbles with her chewing gum
And makes them snap brutally
(only on long version)
Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated by her
She's playing hard to get
She's making fun of men, she's spoiled
Has the world turned upside down?

She painted her eyes black
Her lips painted red
Crazier that you'll ever meet
She's grinning at my face

We weren't raised that way
She's making us look like a fool
New customs have come to town
Boys, we're lost

You've got a real hold on us
You can make a snake come out of its hole
I lost my head over you
If I get a old of you, O

I've fallen in your womb, baby
I've fallen in your furnace, Baby
I've fallen for your warmth, baby
Have mercy

Recorded live in the 1970's by Aisha Ali
Araf (Associated Research Arabic Folklore), 1998

The first sixteen tracks are basic rhythms and the last eight are Tunisian Dances. The recordings are good considering they are field recording. The rhythms are introduced, although not in English, and then broken down to drum speak ending with an example. There are liner notes with a few illustrations. The rhythms presented are: Saadowi, Saadowi Thani, Nawara, Al Gheeta, Al Halla, Al A'llegi, M'dawar Hawzi, Mezan Al Jerbi, Jerbi/Kerkenah, Mezan Bouhella, Mezan Al Fazzani, Souga, Mezan Al Mraba'a, Mezan Al Istiftah, Mezan Al' M'hawshi, and finally Ezzgara. The dance pieces presented are: Dance: Sfax, Dance: Sliman, Hamoda Al Souassi - chants, Nefta - Musket dance, Tozeur - Seif dance, Tozeur - Musket dance, and Hassine Al Hannachi Group.

Available from Elizabeth Artemis Mourat

Both of these recordings are kickin', or as we say around here, "They Rule!" I have adored Turkish Rrom music since my beloved first teacher, Carla Monich, turned me on to it. It was a while before I even knew what it was, but I knew it was for me! Over the years I have learned more about it, and Artemis has been an amazing source of information, encouragement and love. Artemis' own love of the Rroma and her work as an historian has led to her making several trips to Turkey, returning each time with yet more of this irrepressible and irresistible music. This is Rrom music at it's best, played by people who know it intimately. You'd be hard pressed to find these recordings any where else in the States. I dare any dancer to put this music on and not dance to it! Two of Madam Mozuna's favorites.

Folk Lute of Anatolia
Ali Eckber Cicek
Lyrichord Discs, Inc.

This recording offers six fine examples of Turkish Sufi music and vocals. These selections feature music that is very contemplative, poignant, and emotional. Mr. Cicek's voice has a very soothing tone which inspired in me a feeling of familiarity and intimacy, as if I were listening to a favorite uncle singing songs I had enjoyed all my life. Mr. Cicek accompanies himself on the Saz, or Baglama, which many consider to be the national instrument of Turkey as well as a powerful symbol of religious inspiration.

A well known recording artist whose first radio performance was at the age of thirteen, Mr. Cicek has evolved his own personal style, with virtuosity, tempered by traditional Alevi Sufi influences. Well-written liner notes provide greater insight into the music, instruments, historical context and personal background on Mr. Cicek.

These selections vary from up-beat, to slow, intense and pulsing; to rich and lush and driven, played with skill and an a abandon which can crescendo to a thundering gallop. With the finale piece being played with a soft, delicate touch, which is light and high but still very rhythmic. Total running time: 46:19

TURQUIE: Musique Soufi
Radio France
Distributed by Harmonia Mundi

This is a beautiful recording of Soufi sacred songs and prayers, it's almost naively honest music! I find this recording soothes my frayed nerves and weary soul. It's lovingly sung and mesmerizing in it's rhythms. The liner notes are extremely thorough in explaining the music ,but unfortunately there is no information on the musicians and singer. But actually I think that's rather appropriate for such uplifting spiritual music. There are 8 tracks in all for a total of 71:46.

This is an import obviously, but since I found it in a local chain store, it may not be difficult to locate.

Dalinda (Presented by Hossam Ramzy)
ARC Music Int., 2002

Over the past few years Hossam Ramzy has been producing a number of CDs introducing us to various talented musicians and vocalists. With this release we are introduced to the wonderful vocal talents of Dalinda. Born in Libya of Bosnian descent, Dalinda was exposed to a number of musical influences at an early age. Her mother was a fan of Russian Gypsy ballads, her father of Slavik/Balkan folk music, and her young friends of Italian canzonnas. This background may have made it difficult for her to identify with any one particular sound, but it also gave her a diverse pool of musical cultures from which to draw. Eventually realizing that music had to be the central focus of her life, Dalinda moved to London, having been captivated with the freedom of musical expression possible there. Here she met Hossam Ramzy who helped shape her unique sound and musical texture.

As with every CD produced by Mr. Ramzy, the musicians on Turquoise are top notch and the recording quality is impeccable. Mr. Ramzy also had a hand in composing each of the tracks on this CD. Tracks include:

  1. Mahboubi Khanni (My Beloved Deceived Me) [5:05]
  2. Yeslam Galbak (God Bless Your Heart) [3:24]
  3. Raqsah (A Dance) [4:35]
  4. Yaah (Oh How Much) [4:28]
  5. El Shams (With Every Sunrise) [4:31]
  6. Esh Hal Qadny? (How Will I Be Patient Enough?) [4:21]
  7. Efrah Wi Ghanny (Be Happy and Sing) [4:57]
  8. Ghajareyyah (Gypsy Woman) [3:50]
  9. Min Youm (Since the Day You Left) [4:36]
  10. Enta (You) [3:39]
  11. Blue [3:11]

Various Artists
Music Moods, 2001

"Disco lives!" At least that's what one person proclaimed on first hearing this album. And while it is, unmistakably, "dance club music," I find these remixed, techno-enhanced versions of "Egyptian Classics" absolutely irresistible. They've taken several very recognizable pieces, added some techno drum beats and bass lines, and made a CD that is not only popular with many of the local belly dancers, but also appreciated by anyone who is a fan of modern dance music.

Tracks include:

  1. Where Do We Begin [5:25]
  2. One Thousand & One Nights (Ali Leyla Wlayla) - radio version [4:29]
  3. The Beginning [7:27]
  4. Disturb (Bidayat Isaage) [8:28]
  5. Love Night (Laylet Houb) [5:27]
  6. Move Your Belly [5:01}
  7. One Thousand & One Nights (Ali Leyla Wlayla) - master mix [7:32]
  8. Sandstorm (Sinbad) [6:31]

The Gypsy Music of Turkey
The Erkose Ensemble
CPM records, 1991

This is great Tzigane music, played by three brothers and two cousins who are self-taught and began playing as children. Families in which all the members are musicians is a special part of the Tzigane tradition. This is wonderful dance music! As many of the tracks are combinations of melodies I will not name each individual song, but instead describe the varying movements. There are good liner notes providing the name of each melody used.

  1. [12:55] This set starts with a nice bouncy introduction which moves in to a lovely chifitilli, showing off clarinet, Kanun and Kaman. It then picks up in to a nice familiar Karsilama with great screaming kaman. This part really moves you around. Many trade off solos move through an upbeat 4/4 which in turn speeds up into a nice lively finale.
  2. [16:18] This piece begins with a beautiful 3 minute Kanun Taxim. This leads in to a lively 4/4, which flows through some lovely Taxims. We slowly work up to the Finale piece which is one of my favorite Tzigane dance pieces!
  3. [12:13] We now get a very nice Oud taxim which moves in to a happy little Semai rhythm and then mellows out for the finale.
  4. [2:49] This is an absolutely killer Clarinet taxim!
  5. [4:54] Tzigane music is known for it's soulful and melancholy sound, but at the same time it's so energized it's quite ecstatic. This set is a good example, between the screaming kaman and the heavily accented rhythms you can practically see the dancer kicking her skirts, her hair flying!
  6. [3:39] This final set begins with an incredible Kaman taxim. At first so pensive, then so energized and forceful. It quickly heats up to a burning hot grand finale. Smoking!!

Armando Mafufo
Cabron Records, 1982

Armando Mafufo first issued an instructional recording for percussion in 1981 and has produced several more since then. Uncle Mafufo is friendly and engaging with clear and simple instruction. Armando teaches in the accepted fashion of first counting out the beat, then presenting it in "Drum speak", using doum, tec and ca to represent the right and left hand patterns. Then he finally presents a play along example.

Adel Asfour and Mohammed Amin
Aladden Records,1989

This was one of the first dance tapes I bought, over ten years ago, and it's still one of my favorites. To me, this is a classic example of entrancing Arabic Taqseems.

Side 1
Adel Asfour plays track after track of wonderful Arabic Keyboard Taqseems accompanied by a driving Chifitelli.

Side 2
Side 2 also gives us track after track of wonderful Arabic Taqseems. This time Mohammed Amin captivates us with the Nai, lilting over more driving Chifitellies.

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