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A Whole Lot of Sax Going On!

Sax CDs

A Review of 2 CDs from Hossam Ramzy Featuring Saxophone Music
Afrah Baladi with Mostafa Sax

CD Reviews by Catherine Barros
posted December 14, 2011

The saxophone was popularized in beledi music starting in the 1970s. Although I wasn’t introduced to Middle Eastern music until the ‘80s, I believe the first recordings I happened upon featured Samir Sourour.   In the 1990s,  Hossam Ramzy had the opportunity to work with 2 other Egyptian sax players and has produced these 2 CDs with original compositions  and classical/traditional folkloric pieces.

“Ahlamy – Baladi Saxophone with Rafat Misso and Hossam Ramzy”
(Copyright 2008) -Originally released in 1996.

The first CD, "Ahlamy", has been available for purchase for 15 years and has probably garnered many fans during that time.  When I first started listening to this, I did think it was a new release  and then found the date from the CD information was 1996 and that this recording is a re-release with a new cover.  My first take on this was that no new ground had been covered. However, after re-considering this,  it might warrant a first or second look for many dancers.  

Some of the keyboard instrumental segments might sound a bit dated to some ears but the selections cover an inclusive range. (However, I am not a keyboard fan myself.) Due to my love of accordion music, I am most likely going to be attracted to the pieces that have accordion sections.  "El Hanim" along with "El Sama Billey l" (both composed by Rafat) are my 2 favorites because I like the use of the accordion along with the saxophone.   The versions of "Sallam Allay" and "Ya Tamr Henna" that have been included are quite satisfactory.  "Ala Rimsh Oyounha Abilt Hawa" was a bit too fast for my taste but probably will appeal to another dancer–as will the other selections available ("Lamma Ramtna El Eyin", "El Shouma", and "El Baladi Youkal").

Rating:  3 zils
3 zil rating

“Afrah Baladi with Mostafa Sax”
(Copyright 2010) – originally released in 1994 as "Hayati – Best of Egyptian Belly Dance Music"

The 2nd CD, "Afrah Baladi", likewise, has been available for quite awhile. This is also a re-release under a new cover.  

Although I didn’t find anything on this CD that excited me enough to get up to dance and start planning a performance,  I do feel that the longer selections on this CD would be motivating for practice.  In particular, "Eddalla ya Rashidi" (9:20), "Henneya" (9:43) and "Raqs el-Khail" (8:28) are all long enough for use in a class.  Each has its drum rhythm coming through clearly, which I think is quite helpful for any student.  Also, the longer pieces could be used for a troupe performance that  would need extra time (for managing several dancers’ movements around the stage).

"Sunset in the Sahara" might inspire a dancer to bring out her sword because it is played at a pleasantly slow and sensuous tempo that calls for floor-work or sword.  "Afrah Baladi" is a bit more versatile as it has an unusually slow start with a 2 minute taxim, progressing into a medium tempo that speeds up and then finishes off with 1 1/2 minute drum section.    "Farah Amira" is similar to "Afrah Baladi" without the drum section at the end–and they both are approximately 7 minutes in play time.

Rating: 2 zills
Zil Rating- 2

In Conclusion:
I feel that both of these CDs have music that is usable for performance or classroom work, depending on your personal musical tastes.  They are definitely worth a listen–if saxophone music  appeals to you. I spent extra time this weekend wandering around the Internet and Amazon Plus E-music, searching and listening to some other recorded saxophone music.

Perhaps one of the best ways to use a review is to allow it to stimulate and motivate dancers to listen to other music!  

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