Ahmed Mukhtar: Babylonian Fingers (Arc Music)

 |   |  <1 min read

Ahmed Mukhtar: Alleys of the Old City
Ahmed Mukhtar: Babylonian Fingers (Arc Music)

Interesting that the actual album title Babylonian Fingers takes considerable second place to the banner "Music from Iraq".

In truth though, that geographical specificity might actually work better as hook, given how little most people know about the sounds from that region . . . other than maybe what they've heard in movies while the bombs go off and another group of American grunts from Hollywood get anxious, self-doubting and angry in the multiplex.

Baghdad-born, London-based oud master, teacher and composer Mukhtar has done much to keep the music of Iraq in the public consciousness.

However if the album title might suggest traditional, if not ancient Babylonian, music this opens with the swinging Iraqi Jazz with sax and acoustic bass, includes the fingers-poppin' Blues of the Oud and an interpretation of a love song from the Forties.

So Mukhtar is connecting the dots between past and present, home and abroad.

Of course this is still music grounded in a long tradition. The hypnotic Sama'ai Hijaz and the title track – where the finger-plucked oud sometimes sounds more like an Elizabethan lute -- evoke images from a more refined world.

Mukhtar also takes listeners into Alleys of the Old City . . .  and on Nowroz explores a rhythmic connection with music from Central Asia.

All in all, this is a fascinating journey through landscapes more scenic than you might have seen on the movie screen lately, and into narrow byways where there are real people not men with murder on their minds.

Share It

Your Comments

Di Forbes - Jul 2, 2015

Mmmm ... I do so like this eastern oud music. Haunting and mystical. Reminds me a bit of Yair Dalal from Israel. I saw him play at WOMAD in New Plymouth about 2007. Though Israeli, Yair and his band of musicians originate from Iraqi & Persian ethnic groups. Want to hear more ...

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

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... > Read more

Various: Sacred Music of India (Silk Road/Ode)

Various: Sacred Music of India (Silk Road/Ode)

Recorded at a 2000 festival in  Bangalore organised by the Dalai Lama's people (the good Dal writes the introduction in accompanying booklet which also reproduces his inspirational speech... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Simon and Garfunkel; Original Album Classics

THE BARGAIN BUY: Simon and Garfunkel; Original Album Classics

With 71-year old Paul Simon about to arrive for concerts it's instructive to turn back to a time when he would write "I was 21 swhen I wrote this song, I'm 22 now  but I won't be for... > Read more

Joe Bonamassa: Different Shades of Blue (J&R/Southbound)

Joe Bonamassa: Different Shades of Blue (J&R/Southbound)

Astutely released today in advance of his sole New Zealand concert in Auckland tonight, this is the first album by acclaimed American guitarist/singer Joe Bonamassa featuring all his own... > Read more