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Rabih Abou Khalil: Bridging Cultural Divides

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Rabih Abou Khalil is one of the most respected virtuoso oud players and composers whose wide range of interests and insatiable curiosity for new music from around the globe has significantly enriched his own work. His music is his own universe where an ongoing dialogue between Khalil and the rest of the world has been occurring. He was born and raised in the cosmopolitan climate of Beirut, Lebanon, before the civil war that ravaged his homeland forced him to leave for Germany where he studied classical flute. In the past 30 years and with 20 albums behind he has carved ...

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Rabih Abou Khalil and Penelope X at the Bitola World Music Festival 2013

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Rabih Abou Khalil/Penelope X Bitola World Music Festival NU Centar za Kultura Bitola, Macedonia November 9, 2013 Bitola, one of the most beautiful cities in southeastern Europe, is a place that ignites the imagination immediately. With its tasteful and stylish architecture reflected in multicolored facades and European honorary consulates, it displays the city's rich history that stretches back into ancient times. The city blossomed most during the rule of the Ottoman empire when its importance as an administrative and military center (known then as Monastir) also contributed greatly to its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil: Em Portugues

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Musical alchemist, oud virtuoso and springer of surprises, Rabih Abou-Khalil has never been shy about immersing himself into challenging musical environments. So the suggestion by Ricardo Pais, director of the Teatro Nacional Sao Joao, Porto to have Abou-Khalil write music to the words of five Portuguese poets represented an irresistible challenge. The project sees Abou-Khalil utilizing a singer for the first time--the impressive fadoist Ricardo Ribeiro. Em Portugues however, is not fado, but a marriage between its poetic, blues spirit and the imagination of Abou-Khalil. The music lies firmly in the bed of the rhythmic complexities and melodies stemming from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil: Songs For Sad Women

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Showing respect and audacity in equal measure, the music of Lebanese oud player/composer Rabih Abou-Khalil has always stretched musical boundaries and traversed time. His is a music which embraces tradition, and challenges it. On Songs for Sad Women Abou-Khalil marshals a stripped-down ensemble which plays with air akin to intimate chamber music, yet with the soul of timeless folk music.

The combination of Armenian 'duduk,' (a double-reed instrument related to the cornet whose origins pre-date both Christianity and Islam), the bizarrely-shaped 'serpent,' (a baritone cousin of the tuba which looks to have sprung from the imagination of an Asian calligrapher), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil / Joachim Khn / Jarrod Cagwin: Journey to the Centre of an Egg

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With a program of compositions by Rabih Abou-Khalil and Joachim Kühn, Journey to the Centre of an Egg shifts to various parts of the globe, combining mainstream jazz with world music. Most of the flavor in their creations centers on the Middle Eastern tradition. This comes as no surprise, since Abou-Khalil was born in Lebanon and lived there until adulthood. But the session also includes flavors from other areas, including Spain, the Caribbean, South Africa, and parts of South America.

Abou-Khalil's oud takes on the persona of a blues guitarist on “I'm Better Off Without You, which finds ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil / Joachim Kuhn / Jarrod Cagwin: Journey to the Centre of an Egg

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The amount of time that Rabih Abou-Khalil had to wait to receive proper recognition in North America was almost criminal. After amassing ten releases on the German Enja label, the Lebanese oud virtuoso finally penetrated the Western hemisphere through a licensing deal with Montreal's Justin Time and the release of 2004's border-bridging sextet effort, Morton's Foot.

And so expectations are high for this more intimate trio followup, which prominently features German pianist/co-composer Joachim Kühn (who plays alto saxophone on one track) and American percussionist Jarod Cagwin, a specialist in North African and Middle Eastern styles. Wolfgang Reisinger pitches in with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil / Joachim Kuhn / Jarrod Cagwin: Journey to the Centre of an Egg

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In the realm of instruments from off the beaten path in jazz, the oud remains one of the most intriguing. On a series of ECM albums, Anouar Brahem has experimented with the eleven-string lute in a variety of settings, but he tends to fashion close ties with his Tunisian cultural aesthetic. Lebanese oudist Rabih Abou-Khalil has been more adventurous, with a series of albums ranging from the solo Il Sospiro (Enja, 2002) to the unorthodox Cactus of Knowledge (Enja, 2001) big band. Morton's Foot (Enja, 2004) was a particular high water mark, combining Abou-Khalil's penchant for hypnotic rhythms with uncommon ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil: Morton

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Lebanese oud master Rabih Abou-Khalil leads this exciting sextet through a session of his originals. The music, while carrying a distinctive Middle Eastern flavor, can only be called jazz. The group's spontaneity and fresh drive introduce elements that we only find in that portion of the arts where improvisation reigns supreme and swing weaves itself around every phrase.

With the title track, vocalist Gavino Murgia recalls the unique jaw harp drones and guttural emanations that were fostered so well by Dizzy Gillespie. He opens the piece a cappella. And what an exciting singer he proves to be! When ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil: Morton's Foot

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It's not enough for Lebanese oud player Rabih Abou-Khalil to bring the Middle Eastern oud tradition to his reinvented version of world jazz. He also brings in the accordion (in the hands of Luciano Biondini, an Italian) for European emphasis, the tuba (Frenchman Michel Godard) for a touch of New Orleans funk, and bass vocals (Sardinian Gavino Murgia) for pure exoticism. The international ensemble that performs on Morton's Foot brings its array of influences together for a freeform improv-rich jam that feels joyful even its most pensive moments.

Abou-Khalil wrote all eleven compositions on the record (the last ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rabih Abou-Khalil: Morton's Foot

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The definition of jazz is often a hotly contested topic. A more parochial view has it rooted in black American folk music, with somewhat narrow criteria that revolve around certain harmonies and rhythms. A broader view has it based in an improvisational spirit that can be rooted in the folk music of any country. Whether it is the unbridled passion of the Latin heart or the icy cool of the Scandinavian fjord, jazz is where you find it.

And it is just as possible to be found in the desert heat of the Middle East, with no stronger ...



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