by Hossam Ramzy
ARC Music EUCD 1614
Review and Commentary
One of Hossam Ramzy's brightest
and newest CDs on the market is "Faddah" (meaning "Silver"),
which is also the title of the lead track on the recording. Dancers who have
enjoyed many of Hossam Ramzy's 16 other CDs will doubtlessly be thrilled
by this beautifully produced collection of newly composed music. This is
yet another of the prolific Ramzy's offerings that, typically, is unlike
any of the preceding ones in his series. Ramzy sets his goals very high in
the insert notes:
has written this album as the first of a series of albums that will bring
of Egyptian dance into the 21st century."
Good or bad, Ramzy's wish
will most probably be granted as very little music is currently being produced
the stars of Egyptian dance anymore. These days, the great Egyptian dance
stars have retired in disappointingly rapid succession. It appears to have
happened because of the current religious climate in Egypt that discourages
those night clubs and concerts, which might have formerly presented quality
Oriental dance. Mr. Ramzy is a creditable musician and composer whose instrument
of choice is the Arabic drum, but (and herein is the big "but")
his musicianship often outweighs his sense of teamwork with the dancer. Instead
of providing emotional works that support the dancer in impassioned motion,
Ramzy seems to try his utmost to challenge the dancers in a struggle akin
to something I regard as rhythmical abuse.
In my long love affair with Egyptian
music, I came to trust its gentle subtleties, and its moody themes that seem
to speak to one's heart; tragedies and triumphs of life. Though I agree that
dancers should know more than a little something technical about the construction
of Arabic music, in my opinion, Ramzy concentrates on technicalities too
hard. He seems to go out of his way to use excessive rhythmical changes,
purposefully making his music so complex that the little 8 or 10 minute tracks
he allots to presentations on a CD are too short to explore the dramatic
possibilities within the themes. Since most of today's dancers seem to have
become more frenetic and concerned with technique above heart and entertainment
concerns, Ramzy will certainly become one of the strongest producers of dance
music in the current decade.
one of Ramzy's more captivating CDs to dance with because of its snappy
arrangements and top musicians.
It has a full sound in its orchestration
and each track has so many changes that the dancer has very little time left
over to fuss over herself and her costume. This is, of course, a blessing
for audiences who more often have had to endure the endless summers of Dancer's
Ego onstage. However, personally, I would like to have experienced more of
the melodic themes shining through the awkwardly pervasive and heavy rhythms.
I would have hoped for more opportunity for individual solo instruments to
display virtuosity. I would prefer to have the dancer challenged more by
the charismatic content of the twinkling kanoon, the comforting mellow trembles
of the oud, the cries and clowning of the violin, and a few less rhythm changes!
The third cut on this recording is revealing. Demurely, Ramzy has the vocalists
sing (shown here in part):
is going to make us dance…
Hossam Ramzy, be generous with us…
…Hossam Oh Ramzy we are here
Hossam Oh Ramzy drum for us…
…Make us dance…("Ra-Assna", from female voices)
…You are witnessed by the whole world
And the clever ones will be learning from you.
Hossam is a Ramzy from the Pashas
And rhythm was created especially for him.
This is why there aren't two of him, not in Egypt , nor in the 5 continents."
In Egypt I have often enjoyed orchestras with five or more drums, three def
players, a finger cymbal specialist, and various other percussionists.
Yet the thousand year old nai player in a tuxedo is given his moments of
glory sans percussive pummeling! Also, in my heart of hearts I believe
that women do not have to be "made" to dance by the beat of a
drum, but simply allowed to share the underlying message of spirit, gentle
or impassioned, contained in the music. That spirit is what has made the
music of Farid El Atrache, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Abdel Wahab enduring
as well as endearing.
If you are enticed by the intricacies
of many rhythm changes in musical selections, I refer you to the well organized
and informative insert notes. I wish Hossam Ramzy Godspeed on his quest into
21st century Egyptian dance.
However, it is my hope that
he will embrace some quietude and gentility from the past in the form
of taxim of 20th century dance lore.
Audiences do not need to be stimulated
relentlessly and neither do dancers. Though I would have to admit that a
few seem to need a rhythmic hotfoot, more are in need of a sea breeze of
melody. I would welcome a Ramzy produced CD constructed to tell a musical
story or musical mood drama that could be danced with heartfelt artistry
by women who do not desire to struggle with challenge as much as they long
to live, dance and express the messages life through music.
another review by Najia-
Bellydance: Nasrah By the Ensemble Huseyin Turkmenler reviewed by Najia
What an absolutely
delightful surprise it was...
Laughs Gives Reviewer Terrific Case of Readers Indigestion,
Reviewed by Sadira
Belly Laughs: Adventures with Celebrities & Other Unusual Characters book
written by Rod Long.
the Myths: The Many Faces of Belly Dance, by Susie Poulelis
A Teachers' Showcase July 7, 2001, Berkeley, California
One of the first
events produced by the recently formed San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of MECDA