Arabic Music Recommendations?
Sep 28, 2009 at 6:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 21

Comfy

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I've been trying to google some sort of a list for "best contemporary arab musicians / albums", but with no luck so far.

However, I've found a few that I find really amazing:

Flamenco Árabe - Hossam Ramzy & Rafa El Tachuela
Endless Vision - Hossain Alizadeh & Jivan Gasparyan
Sufi Music from Turkey - Sufi Music Ensemble

So that's arabic flamenco and persian lute music and sufi music all thrown together - because I don't have a clue where to start and what kind of categories I should be investigating. Anyway, all of the above provide the kind of hypnotic melodies and instrumental mastery that I'm after. Classical arabic music or traditional arabic folk music performed and recorded by modern masters.

Please enlighten me. What's the "Kind of Blue" of arabic music? Who's the Paco de Lucia of the arab world?

Thanks.
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 7:00 PM Post #2 of 21

Sherwood

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First off, do you make a distinction between Arabic music and Turkish music here? Do you want modern Arabic pop, or only traditional/modern interpretations of traditional?
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 7:12 PM Post #3 of 21

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I don't want modern arabic pop, only traditional/modern interpretations of traditional.

And no, I'm not trying to make a distinction between arabic and turkish, is there a clear difference? Many middle eastern countries have this amalgam of muslim, jewish and christian cultures, and I'm only interested in the music really. Of course, the islamic tradition seems to be closest to what I'm looking for - that musical equivalent of an andalusian mosaic or the filigree on a damascus sabre...
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 7:16 PM Post #4 of 21

adrift

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Cool thread. I'm subscribed. I may have some suggestions... I'll have to look through my collection later.
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 7:27 PM Post #5 of 21

tru blu

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Start with Oum Kalthoum, the Arab world's preeminent singer/icon. She was from Egypt. You can also look for stuff by her arranger, Mohammed Abdel Wahab. There's an Iraqi oud virtuoso who lives in the USA now, Rahim Alhaj, who's pretty great. Maybe try his Smithsonian record, When The Soul Is Settled. I caught a Sufi troupe from Morocco not long ago that was unbelievable, but I don't know if they have albums: Abdellah Yacoubbe Ensemble.

Hope this helps...
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 8:03 PM Post #7 of 21

Sherwood

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Comfy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
that musical equivalent of an andalusian mosaic or the filigree on a damascus sabre...


Solid -- we're on the same page, then.

First, your great masters are widely considered to be Umm Kulthum, Farid Al Attrach, Abdel Halim Hafez and Mohammed Abdel Wahab. Naturally, you might find different spellings, but those are the common ones.

Those are traditional heroes, and still popular throughout Egypt. It's a bit dated, though, so some newer suggestions that keep to the same musical tradition are in order.

George Wassouf has recently been in the news for drug charges, but he's a big deal throughout the arab world.

I'm really much better versed in Turkish music, so I'll do what I can there: Sezen Aksu is very famous, and while she's technically pop, she may tickle your fancy. Likewise for Mercan Dede, whose recent album "800" is absolutely stunning. Regardless of how much traditionalism you are looking for, you owe it to yourself to listen to Mercan.

Beyond that, I'd look into the Taksim Trio. Good stuff, well recorded, and thoroughly capable of transporting you to another world.
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 10:29 PM Post #8 of 21

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While I appreciate the more classic masters in the line of Umm Kulthum etc., I find the recordings a bit too lo-fi to really enjoy them - at least at this point, with so little experience regarding the nuances of arabic music, and no understanding of the lyrics.

I really liked the Taksim Trio, bought their self-titled album, as well as Rahim Alhaj and his When the Soul is Settled. 800 by Mercan Dede is stunning as you said, even though it's not traditional. Great stuff.

I guess that my preference is for the mostly instrumental and well-recorded stuff. Finding the perfect balance between classic instrumentation and compositional motifs, and a recording that makes them justice. Those ouds and neys sound amazing.
 
Sep 28, 2009 at 11:04 PM Post #9 of 21

tru blu

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Cool. You might also see if you can find better-fi recordings by the oud master Munir Bachir. He's Rahim Alhaj's (and so many other virtuosos's) teacher. If you're looking for something on the highwire between trad and Western music (jazz specifically), Anouar Brahem, a Tunisian artist on ECM, has recorded several trio discs (oud with clarinet and bendir, or with piano and accordion) that are quite nice.

Actually, now that I think about it, one of the best Arabic discs I've ever heard is a soundtrack compilation produced by Brahem in the early '90s, The Silences of the Palace (Les Silences du Palais). It contains much more up to date versions of trad music, so the sound quality will definitely be what you're looking for.
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Sep 29, 2009 at 12:31 PM Post #12 of 21

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I highly recommend the Music of Islam sampler from Celestial Harmony: a tasting-menu of a 17-CD project, this is one of the most enjoyable single-disc overview of Middle-Eastern music. The densely-printed booklet is loaded with information about Islamic music and arts in general.

Many labels that specialise in Middle-Eastern music are from France: Especially noteworthy are L'Institute du Monde Arabe, Al Sur (big on Turkish), and Auvidis Inedit (a general World-music label, but big on Morocco). However, these CDs may not be easily available everywhere. Another label well-worth looking (especially if you're into Armenian and Iranian/Persian music) is Traditional Crossroads, which has a plus in that their recordings are very sonically satisfying.

For new interpreters, I can never get tired of Omar Faruk Tekbelik, who has released dozens of CDs over the decades (I recommend One Truth, followed by Beyond the Sky). The group Stellamara is much less prolific, but their music better capture the improvisatory nature of Middle-Eastern music.

With Anouar Brahem, I recommend Astrakan Cafe as the music sticks closer to the traditional turf; Brahem can be quite "Frenchified" at times.
 
Sep 29, 2009 at 12:45 PM Post #13 of 21

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Sep 30, 2009 at 6:46 PM Post #14 of 21

Comfy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by FalconP /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I highly recommend the Music of Islam sampler from Celestial Harmony: a tasting-menu of a 17-CD project, this is one of the most enjoyable single-disc overview of Middle-Eastern music. The densely-printed booklet is loaded with information about Islamic music and arts in general.


The sampler and further incursions into that box-set will keep me occupied for a while.
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Wow. Thanks.

Stellamara is beautiful and Traditional Crossroads seem to have some great stuff there - been sampling what I could find with iTunes.

Khaled I'm more familiar with, great stuff as well.

Thanks for the amazing recommendations!
 

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