CD Oxfam Arabia: Arabesque to Oud - Contemporary Arabian Sounds (CD 884320),
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Oxfam Arabia: Arabesque to Oud - Contemporary Arabian Sounds
1. Tulbah (Proposition) - El-Funoun
2. Taal Zaman - Natacha Atlas/Transglobal Underground
3. Agee Jump - Momo
4. Breeze in Bisaan - Simon Shaheen
5. We Daret el Ayam - Salwa Abou Greisha/Mahmoud Fadl
6. Mali Ha Mali - Abdou
7. Remembering Machghara - Rabih Abou-Khalil
8. Ya Rayah - Dahmane el Harrachi
9. Bitzd Min 'Adhb (She Increases My Pain) - Abdel Gadir Salim
10. Mabruk - Ali Hassan Kuban
11. Min Ashur Ila Ishbiliya - Naseer Shamma
12. Dandana - Warda
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 1121
Performers include: Simon Shaheen, El-Funoun, Alo Hassan Kuban, Mahmoud Fadl & Salwa Abou Greisha, Naseer Shamma.
Liner Note Author: Dan "Boxcar" Rosenberg.
Photographers: Chris Stuart; Toby Adamson; Taal Zaman; Gunnar Geller; Ssitus Pakzaol; Tony Taylor.
Unknown Contributor Roles: El-Funoun; Salwa Abou Greisha; Ali Hassan Kuban; Natacha Atlas; Transglobal Underground; Warda.
Arranger: Simon Shaheen.
An interesting compilation of Arabic music supporting the goals of Oxfam in the Middle East by raising money and spreading awareness. The goal is to cover the wide variety of music from the Arab world both across genres, and across time, to a degree. The album opens with the Palestinian cultural troupe El-Funoun, and some relatively old folk forms, then moves forward rapidly with the techno-influenced groove of the Transglobal Underground and Natacha Atlas. Gnawa music forms a small base for the deeper house beats of London's MoMo, and violin/oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen shows off his prowess in the fusion of jazz with Arabic traditional forms. Nubia is represented by drummer Mahmoud Fadl, and Algerian rai by the "Boy George of rai," Abdou (a brave heterosexual cross-dresser in repressive Algeria). A long run on the oud shows off influences too numerous to pick out in Rabih Abou-Khalil's work, and Dahmane el Harrachi presents one of his signature numbers (made a hit much later by Rachid Taha) in "Ya Rayah." Even Sudan's premier oud player, Abdel Gadir Salim, takes time off from his job as a school principal to present a piece for the album. Nubia is again portrayed, this time through the sounds of the classic Ali Hassan Kuban, and Iraqi master oud player Naseer Shamma presents a piece on the oud making use of a more Spanish-style of plucking. The album ends with the Algerian Warda presenting her inimitable voice on "Dandana." The album cuts a wide swath through the vast array of genres and sounds available in the Arab world, but makes a coherent whole through the use of instrumentation as a link from one song to the next. The oud stands out as a prominent instrument throughout, as do aspects of the percussion, and occasionally, other instruments. By showcasing the diversity of music, but keeping one or two constants during each piece (or episode), the album's compilers do well in maintaining a sense of wholeness and unity. There are certainly more exciting compilations of Arab music to be heard, but this one does a fine job as a starting point, introducing the basic framework of the majority of the areas' musics to the listener, who can then move onward with the knowledge of the various genres. ~ Adam Greenberg
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