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Gilded Serpent presents...
"Aheb Masr,
Music and Songs for Oriental Dance"

produced by Nader Zakaria, at Merryland Studio Heliopolis,
Artistic direction by Yasmina
CD Review by Catherine Barros
March 2008

Following in the dance steps of "Heya di Yasmina" and "Layali Yasmina", "Ehab Masr" is the latest CD of music that has been produced for Yasmina of Cairo.  This CD includes music which can be used for a full show with costume changes or separately.  Most of the songs are approximately 6 minutes or under with a full length opening number. 

Depending on your mood and tastes, there should be something for just about everyone on this CD. 

What I like about this CD is that along with the quality of the music, the flavor and the moods of the pieces vary quite nicely.  Yasmina's latest selections include a mix of older songs (composed by Baligh Hamdi and Mohamed abdel Wahab) along with modern compositions ("Ehab Masr", "Tribute to Samia Gamal" - both composed by Reda Saad).  The pieces are of varying styles (Nubian, Balady, Sha'abi, Classic) and what helps to emphasis the difference is the vocal talents of several singers.  Certainly, each singer's voice is different and a voice is like an instrument, which, whether mizmar, drum, violin or kanoun, contributes to the over all sound of the song.

On my first listen to this CD, I jumped out of my chair to start dancing when I hit track 3, "Agibni Kulak (I Like Everything About You)".

 Amazingly enough I still do, even after I have listened to it well over 100 times.  I have used this song for performance twice now and it never fails me.  It gives me incredible energy and I would swear it is better than any mood altering drug you can imagine.  Ok, now that probably seems like a bit of an exaggeration, but I really have had lots of fun with this song.  The singer's voice is a bit rough but he sings his heart out with great support from his backup singers plus it has one of my favorite instruments, an accordion. 

But this CD isn't a one hit CD, so don't stop on track 3 as there is a lot of music to like on this CD.  The Opening, "Ehab Masr", is a quite nice piece of music, which makes use of a full orchestra.  In the style of any good opening piece, it has many changes of rhythms that are certain to challenge a dancer while keeping the audience interested in her performance.  I loved the lush, old fashioned feel of "Tribute to Samia Gamal", which evokes images of graceful dancers in flowing gowns without losing that Oriental feel.  I can see Yasmina dancing a duet with Mohamed Khazafy to this music as I have seen them dancing on the Farha Tour DVDs  ("Tribute to Abdel halim Hafiz", "Tribute to Farid el Atrash & Samia Gamal") .

For something completely different, the "Nubian Cocktail" is a nice medley of 3 different songs, which starts out a bit slow then builds up some speed for the ending.  This medley is a good addition because I haven't heard too many CDs that include Nubian music as used in a full show in Cairo and a nice change from the more typical Saidi and/or Eskanderany tableau.  Following the "Nubian Cocktail" is an "African Drum Solo", which I think is very hot.  

For me, it brought up images of the young Mona el Said doing her famous drum solo in the gold lame bikini looking costume.  HOT!!  And the perfect finish for an ethnic performance.

The Classical Balady piece that is included was composed by Mounir Abdel-Aziz and Reda Saad and is a very nice one, which I am sure that many dancers who favor Balady style will like.  It is a bit flirty with a relaxed and light feeling to it in the beginning with its use of the violin and accordion.  The tempo changes from slow to fast, but it is never too heavy in the feel.  It is a good piece to dance with joy.

Now I am looking over the 4 remaining songs, which are all about love, naturally:  "Ala Hizboadad (With all that my heart desires)", "Ala Rimsh Eyounha (In Her Eyelashes)", "Ana henna, Y'ibn el Hala (I'm here, Chosen One)", "Toul Omri Ahebak W'ashkeelak (All my Life I Love you and Lament)".  As I listen to each one, I keep switching back and forth from these trying to decide if I like one more than the other.  Maybe it seems like I am going to wimp out a bit as I'll just admit that these are all equally pleasant songs for listening and each has something that will probably appeal to a dancer.  You can make a very nice complete show with one of these songs but deciding will be difficult.  At least it would be for me.

To wrap up, as the last track on the CD, there is a 30 second Finale, which is a nice add-on to have for an exit.

What I have enjoyed with the various DVDs and CDs that have been produced by and for Yasmina is the mix of music with inclusion of some nice classics along with the modern and the folky.  I think it has broadened my music knowledge and it is nice to find some new "old" favorites.  In addition, it is wonderful to have a source for new versions of classic songs that can tempt a dancer to do more searching and learning.  I know that I always want to know more and spent a few minutes googling Sayed Makowi as I wasn't so familiar with him.  I believe that is one of Yasmina's goals and I hope that she continues to provide more music to pique our interest, tempt our senses and help us grow as dancers.

Complete track Listing from the CD:

  • Ehab Masr: Opening Music
    9:18  "I Love Egypt"  - composer: Reda Saad
  • Ala Hizboadad
    6:05  "With all that my heart desires" - composer: Baligh Hamdi; singer: Safaa Farid
  • Agibni Kulak
    5:55  "I Like Everything about You" - Originally performed by Abdel-Basat Hamouda; singer Alaa el Khateeb
  • Tribute to Samia Gamal
    4:00  Composed by Reda Saad for Yasmina and inspired by films of Samia Gamal
  • Ala Rimsh Eyounha
    4:50  "In Her Eyelashes" - composer: Baligh Hamdi; singer: Ahmed Alaa
  • Nubian Cocktail 
    6:30   Folkloric Medley - "Fakhor Ana (I'm Proud)";"Shambousha"; "Seeb el Homoum (Leave your troubles)"; singer :  Mahmoud Mohasseb
  • African Drum Solo
    3:00   Hot, hot, hot
  • Ana Henna, Y'ibn el Hala
    3:55  "I'm here, Chosen One" - composer: Sayed Makowi
  • Classical Balady
    5:30  Composed by Mounir Abdel-Aziz and Reda Saad
  • Toul Omri Ahebak W'ashkeelak
    5:24  "All my Life I Love you and Lament" - composer: Mohamed Abdel Wahab; singer:  Safaa Farid
  • Finale

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