Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rabih Abou-Khalil - Selection

Lebonese born Rabih Abou-Khalil is an artist that straddles both the world and jazz genres seamlessly, forging a unique blend of styles with his unique brand of oriental jazz and he's been doing it for some time, with almost 20 album releases behind him.

It's hard to pick one album that represents the varied nature of his output, which is why this handy compilation "Selection " will prove essential for newcomers.

By and large Rabih's albums are led by the oud, his chosen instrument, which he is the master of and of course inevitably gives the music an instant middle eastern flavour and will usually be complemented by the backbone of bass, drums and percussion. What makes the sound of his recordings, which constantly range in tempo, so unique are the variations of other instrumentation that is present on the recordings. For example throughout his albums the ney makes a regular appearance on more oriental-based albums like "Taraab", "Roots and Sprouts" and "Nafas". Whilst more brass-based leanings with trumpet, clarinet, french horn, tuba, both alto and tenor sax dominating the sound on more jazz flavoured albums like "Cactus Of Knowledge", "Sultans Picnic" and "Blue Camel". The album "Arabian Waltz" featured a string quartet, whilst the duduk (an instrument associated with Armenia and with Djivan Gasparyan) is the focal point on the album "Songs for Sad Women". On the "Journey To the Centre Of An Egg" you will hear a more slow-paced mellow piano-based sound. While 2008's "Em Portugues" introduced a young Fado singer Ricardo Ribeiro to the fray with stunning results.

The vast majority of Rabih's recordings have come on the Enja label with some earlier works appearing on ECM. It's the former output that this compilation concentrates on and you get one track from twelve different albums including his genius solo set "Il Sospiro", so you get a good perspective of what Rabih Abou Khalil's musical vision is all about. He is also a fine live performer, having seen the man in action a couple of years ago.

It's worth pointing out that the artwork on Rabih's albums are more often than not quite beautiful. Take a look here.

To listen to sound samples from "Selection", this seems to be the best place.

To follow are two clips of tracks "Arabian Waltz" and "Blue Camel" both taken from "Selection",and for good measure they are followed by two tracks from the "Songs For Sad Women" album.

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