le trio joubran

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Toufic Farroukh: Tootya (Ode)

Toufic Farroukh: Tootya (Ode)

World music purists will moan that there is very little "authentic" about this album by Lebanese saxophonist Farroukh and they may well be right: the sessions in Paris doubtless account for the slightly synthetic and polished quality, and the clubland feel of some tracks. But . . . . With the core of the recordings seeming to...

Various: The Rough Guide to North African Cafe (Rough Guide/Elite)

Various: The Rough Guide to North African Cafe (Rough Guide/Elite)

About two decades ago in a parody of Jon Landau's famous comment about Bruce Springsteen I wrote a world music column which started, "I have seen rock and roll's future, and it is North African". By way of supporting evidence I noted rock people's love of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir and other such things, and firmly believed then -- as...

Benjamin Escoriza: Alevanta! (Riverboat/Elite)

Benjamin Escoriza: Alevanta! (Riverboat/Elite)

This may be a tough call for most, unless you have heard and loved Radio Tarifa, a rocking Spanish band that brought together a happy marriage of North African music, Spanish flamenco, Latin and gypsy rhythms, and plenty of pop smarts. Their albums Rumba Argelina ('93) and Cruzando El Rio ('01) are well worth seeking out. Escoriza was...

Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian: Oud Masterpieces (Arc/Elite)

Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian: Oud Masterpieces (Arc/Elite)

The oud -- a Middle Eastern ancestor of the European lute -- has an earthy but elevating sound and is heard from Egypt to Armenia, and in Massachusetts where Bardezbanian lives. While a student of composition at Berklee in Boston, he held down a gig playing in a Greek taverna, which accounts for the broad reach of this album: from his Armenian...

The Silk String Quartet: Contemporary and Traditional Chinese Music (Arc/Elite)

The Silk String Quartet: Contemporary and Traditional Chinese Music (Arc/Elite)

This London-based group includes Cheng Yu, who previously featured on Elsewhere with her lovely solo album of pipa (lute) and qin (zither) music. She has a command of both instruments and here (playing pipa) with Sun Zhao on zither, Hu Bin (erhu/fiddle) and Zhou Jinyan (Chinese dulcimer) she delivers lively traditional tunes alongside...

Hossam Ramzy and Samy El Bably; Cairo Nights (Arc/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Hossam Ramzy and Samy El Bably; Cairo Nights (Arc/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Elsewhere listeners know it is unwise to judge an album -- especially a world music album, and most particularly a bellydance album -- by its cover. Beneath the bejewelled, bikini-top breasts on this unpromising looking album are the two key features: the names of Ramzy and El Bably. Ramzy is a prolific writer (over 20 albums for the Arc...

Rahim Alhaj: When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq (Smithsonian/Elite)

Rahim Alhaj: When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq (Smithsonian/Elite)

It may be some time before the soul of Iraq is settled but if anyone can bring the traditional music of that troubled country to international attention it is Baghdad-born Alhaj who fled Saddam Hussein's regime to Jordan then Syria, and now lives in New Mexico. A graduate with honours in music, he has been playing oud since he was nine and...

El Hadj N'Diaye: Geej (Marabi)

El Hadj N'Diaye: Geej (Marabi)

This Senegalese singer-guitarist (here recorded in Paris) has one of those mesmerisingly soulful voices which, even though you probably don't understand a word, pulls you in. His lyrics address social issues (if translating avec mon rudimentary Francaise est bien) -- but you get that from the emotion he pours into the words. French...

Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble: Ana Hina (World Village)

Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble: Ana Hina (World Village)

The great Natacha Atlas first came to my attention two decades ago when I was in England and she was guesting on albums by TransGlobal Underground, a multicultural London-based outfit that brought together trip-hop, techno, Middle Eastern and Indian sounds. Anything with Atlas employing her remarkable voice was an absolute winner and I...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Le Trio Joubran: Majaz (Jawwal/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Le Trio Joubran: Majaz (Jawwal/Ode)

They may look like those agency-groomed opera singers you see on the back of buses -- immaculately trimmed stubble, tuxedos with ties hanging loose, brooding good looks and sultry come-hither eyes -- but put aside any preconceptions: this trio of oud-playing Palestinian brothers is the real thing. This exotic, hypnotic and deeply emotionally...

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

Surprisingly, this French multi-instrumentalist (oud, guitar, anything with strings) hasn't previously appeared at Elsewhere, largely because his albums are in woefully short supply in New Zealand. Pity, he's huge in Europe for his inclusive approach which means he brings together North African styles with gypsy music, flamenco with Middle...

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby (ARC Music)

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby (ARC Music)

Said it before but will say it again: you should never judge a bellydance album by its cover.  You should look for a name like Hossam Ramzy and consider that a hallmark of quality. The man is genius and also astonishingly prolific as a writer and performer. This time out the percussionist pairs up with multi-instrumentalist El Hendy...

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM/Ode)

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM/Ode)

The previous album posted at Elsewhere by this oud player, Le Voyage de Sahar, was one of the best in his long career and -- as with Le pas du chat noir of 2002 -- confirmed that he was craeting his own genre, a kind of Middle Eastern chamber jazz for oud, piano and accordion. There was a cool stillness about Le Voyage de Sahar and that mood...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui: Siwan (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui: Siwan (ECM/Ode)

This album fits squarely into Elsewhere, but perhaps in few other places. Not only does it feature Elsewhere favourite Jon Hassell on trumpet and electronic effects, but it has a swooning Arab North African quality (singer Amina Alaoui comes from Morocco), the poetic lyrics come from Sufi writers and the whole thing is beautifully, and...

Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam: Viento del Desierto (Mihrab)

Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam: Viento del Desierto (Mihrab)

This exotic blend of flamenco guitar and oud alternates between the thrilling and the exotic, and succeeds on both counts. Libertad, driven by urgent clapping and with the vocals of Doris Farhat keening and soaring, is a standout. It is the last track and the journey to it is utterly rewarding.  Muller (from the Netherlands...

Kamel El Harrachi: Ghana Fenou (Mosaic/Ode)

Kamel El Harrachi: Ghana Fenou (Mosaic/Ode)

By coincidence Elsewhere here acknowledges the son of another music master in the same week as we pick up the album by Jakob Dylan. Kamel El Harrachi is the Paris-based son of the late oud player/singer Dahmane El Harrachi from Algeria and this is his tribute on the 30th anniversary of his father's death. Singer/oud player Kamel has a...

Souad Massi: O Houria/Liberty (Wrasse/Shock)

Souad Massi: O Houria/Liberty (Wrasse/Shock)

It has been far too long since this Paris-based Algerian singer has graced the pages of Elsewhere -- her Mesk Elil of 2007 contained the sublime psychedelic track Tell Me Why (here) among other delights, and her double acoustic "best of" album of 2009 (although it didn't get a mention here) has been a personal favourite for a long...

Syriana: The Road to Damascus (Real World)

Syriana: The Road to Damascus (Real World)

The last time Nick Page (aka Dubulah and co-founder of London's terrific Transglobal Underground) appeared on these pages it was as Dub Colossus with the album A Town Called Addis in which he recorded local Ethiopian musicians in situ then worked on the tapes back in the Real World studios in England. There has always been an authenticity...

Hassan Erraji: Awal Mara (World Village)

Hassan Erraji: Awal Mara (World Village)

One of the delights of "world music" is that it is a constant journey of discovery and so you have no qualms picking up an album by an unknown name (Hassan Erraji? Never heard of him myself) and taking a chance. And in this case you stumble on someone you wished you'd discovered many years ago -- especially when you read in the...

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bellydance (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bellydance (Rough Guide/Southbound)

As has been noted previously at Elsewhere, anyone interested in world music learns quickly to never judge an album by its cover. In many countries the cover is just the thing you wrap around the sound and not much thought is given to it. Often an “exotic” landscape photo or unflattering image of the artist (snapped at the...

Taraf de Haidouks and Kocani Orkestar: Band of Gypsies 2 (Crammed Discs)

Taraf de Haidouks and Kocani Orkestar: Band of Gypsies 2 (Crammed Discs)

The rather mouthful of an album title tells you that this is forced marriage of two Romany groups teaming up to celebrate the Taraf's 20th anniversary. This album comes a decade on from the first Taraf Band of Gypsies album (which had the Orkestar playing on three pieces) and with both bands by sharing a Belgian musical director...

Le Trio Joubran: AsFar (World Village/Ode)

Le Trio Joubran: AsFar (World Village/Ode)

A previous album Majaz by these oud-playing Palestinian brothers was a Best of Elsewhere 2008 selection, so this one seems long overdue -- although I have just learned there was a live album in '09 which was aimed at the local market. They are the fourth generation in their family of players and oud makers but, to these ears at least, do not...

Hossam Ramzy: Rock the Tabla (Arc Music)

Hossam Ramzy: Rock the Tabla (Arc Music)

With the kind of diverse guests only this acclaimed Egyptian percussion player could call on -- jazz drummers Billy Cobham and Manu Katche, A.R. Rahman (aka "the Mozart of Madras", of Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack fame), guitarist Phil Thornton, taiko drummer Joji Hirota, Indian and Egyptian ensembles -- the great Ramzy once...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Azam Ali: From Night to the Edge of Day (Six Degrees)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Azam Ali: From Night to the Edge of Day (Six Degrees)

Nominally lullabies from around the Middle East, this breathy and exceptional album by the Iranian-born Canadian-resident Ali -- singer in the band Niyaz -- becomes something much more hypnotic as here keening voice explores those delightful microtones common in the music of the region. Very much the global citizen -- she lived in India as a...

Various artists: Womad, The World's Festival 2012 (Cartell)

Various artists: Womad, The World's Festival 2012 (Cartell)

With the annual Womad festival about to descend on New Plymouth's beautiful Bowl of Brooklands site once again -- over the weekend of March 16-18 -- this 16 song collection wil serve as a primer and a memento for many. Of course there is no subtitute for seeing some of these acts (some are very visual) or enjoying deep immersion in whole...

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar (ECM/Ode)

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar (ECM/Ode)

Tunisian Brahem who plays oud --- like a slack-string lute -- steers another fine album under his own name on ECM, a label with a reputation for meticulously produced if sometime emotionally distant music. Here with pianist Francois Couturier and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier these exotic and evocative pieces conjure up cool nights --...

Various Artists: Turkish Groove (Putumayo/Elite)

Various Artists: Turkish Groove (Putumayo/Elite)

The Putumayo label pumps out the compilations and some of them, most actually, are pretty indifferent. But the likeable generic packaging has captured the imagination so some people just get into that "buy the series" thing -- and get stuck with uninteresting Asian Lounge, various albums of kiddie folk, and disappointing collections...

Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

Subtitled "Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora", this sometimes astonishing debut album remains breathtaking in its scope -- from a lullaby to a moving song of mourning, to tracks with jazzy saxophone or melancholy piano, and lengthy explorations of melody and emotions. And singer Kelani announced herself as...

Various: Belly Dance (Think Global)

Various: Belly Dance (Think Global)

Okay, okay. A belly dance album doesn't quite shake my tree either -- but put aside your preconceptions and what's here is a very good sampler of Arabic music from big names like Hossan Ramzy, the Cairo Orchestra, the Sami Mossair Orchestra and others. It comes with good liner notes too: the name "belly dance" for raqs sharki...

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