3 CD Reviews:
Raqs El Qamar by Chris Marashlian,
of Turkey by Tayyar Akdeniz,
Unveiled, by Angelika
Nemeth and Raul Ferrando
Reviewed by Joette
has their own artistic opinions of what’s good, bad, and
ugly. I’m no different. In the critics corner it is more
than personal taste, its composition, clarity, arrangement,
quality, and practicality for use. You may not share my
taste nor agree with my selection, or even hate that I
dissed your favorite artist. On the other hand, you
can trust my judgment in practicality, quality, and taste
for the dancer and music connoisseur. So, don’t shoot me
if I recommend something you end up buying and hating.
Don’t yell at me if I rip apart a beloved album. Ok? All
albums are rated on a four zill scale. I love most Arabic
music, so albums will have at least a two, but I’ll try
to be objective. Now that all the formalities are out front
in the open, let the fun begin.
El Qamar is a compilation
of easy listening tracks composed by Chris Marashlian.
The entire work for lack of better words “is easy on
the ears.” The seven tracks are long, light and simple
in instrumentation. The sound may have been recorded
on high definition but it is reminiscent of the band
music you would hear with the 3 piece ensemble in the
old Lebanese night clubs. I enjoy that old club feel
but when I first put the CD on I turned it up twice because
the sound clarity was poor. At the time it seemed more
like muffled sound than high definition. The individual
instrument sound is distant and I had to listen for precision
and richness. When the Nay started in on track one, I
literally wanted to reach into the studio and pull the
musician close to the microphone. On the other hand,
the artists on this album are talented and engaging with
refreshing presentation. I think Marshlian has creative
talent and I’m hoping to hear more from this inspiring
producer in the future. Practicality use for Raqs El
Qamar would be long warm-ups in class, twenty minute
walk around the table easy club work, or maybe relaxing
music during a long drive in the car. Raqs El Qamar is
a musician’s CD and not so much for the performer. If
this is what you’re looking for “GREAT” if not move on.
Rating is two zills for average.
on to Rhythms of Turkey by Tayyar Akdeniz,
I am going to officially name Akdeniz the “Super Turk.”
This vast compilation of Turkish Rromi (aka gypsy in Western
culture) music is over the top outstanding. Seldom at rest,
Akdensiz sings and plays baglama, kasiklar, dumbec with mastery
of the davul on this album. This first generation old Rromi
music compilation in composes the joy of life, love and beauty
of the Romi people in a contemporary format. Akdeniz is extremely
proficient, knowledgeable and passionate about his art, music,
and dance as it screams out in this CD. Sound quality is superb
with clarity of instrumentation showing full bodied richness
to each measure. There are nine time signatures represented
in this volume one of Rhythms of Turkey including 2/4,
5/8, 6/8, 7/8, 9/8, 9/16, 10/8, 9/16 and 8/8. In addition there
are eight different percussion instruments used: bendir, davul,
kasik, darbuka, parmak zills, nagara, tambourine, and kudum.
I would venture to say that this CD crosses belly dance genres
and is a highly educational tool for many musicians, modern
dancers, scholars, and Turkish enthusiast alike. For the practicality
of oriental dancers, the five bonus tracks were composed with
you in mind. Track Derzor and Raks el Havanim are extremely
classically rich for the Oriental styles and are four minutes
or less in length. Overall this rates four zills on my scale
for high presentation, quality, and uniqueness. My hats off
to Akdeniz and his capabilities to master it all. Now I would
like to see him increase his talent by balancing a shot of
Raki (Turkish liquor) while dancing, singing, and playing.
That would be spectacular!
versus contemporary is Angelika Unveiled,
the latest work that artist Angelika Nemeth and
composer Raul Ferrando released this past
spring. As I began to piece together my thoughts over this
album, I simply wondered what Nemeth was thinking when she
and Ferrando created this CD and thus searched her Web site
for an explanation. This is what I found: “Experience my love
affair with La Danse Orientale and the passionately expressive
music that accompanies it. An irresistible fusion of sounds
-- traditional and innovative -- blending the dynamic West
with the sensual East”.
I would have to say “right on.” This compilation is a blast
to listen to with many soulful sounds. Holy moly is it hard
to pick a favorite track and I’m not the only one that feels
this way. For example, I brought a few of these CD’s to my
beginner’s class back in May and all the songs were already
taken for solo performances in the next hafla. Everyone wanted
a copy and was enthusiastic about embracing the power, beauty,
and intoxification of Unveiled. Nemeth’s ability to
merge contemporary sound and old school feel for the modern
dancer is innovative and rockin’. The whole compilation is
an intense feeling and warmth in these performance pieces which
include two drum solos, an oriental entrance and exit, and
four haunting contemporary pieces including Yearning and Fire
Goddess. The lyrics to Fire Goddess composed by Madelena Morgan
stir a passion within; I am the desert rose, beauty curves
my limbs, luminous in moon-wine, blazing flames stir within,
Fire Goddess dance with me. On the zill rating scale, Unveiled
tops the charts at a four. Go get it – you won’t be disappointed
and might even find yourself transformed to the magic land
of “Angelikaville” where blushing, yearning, ancient memories,
global grooves, and intoxicating taqsim’s rule the land. Don’t
be afraid it is all a joyful pleasure!
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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for
other possible viewpoints!
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Festival in Catalunia, Spain June 20-22, 2008 photos
by Eulalia Grau and Janixia text by Ling Shien Bell
the third year in a row, Maria Cresswell produced a dance and music
festival honoring the Summer Soltice. This year's three day event
took place high up in the Catalunian Pyrenees, in a rustic hostel
fed by fresh springs and bordered by a rushing river.