Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jalilah's Raks Sharki, Stage Cuts, Modern Egyptian Dance Music

If you know the music of the mid-east well enough, you do not need to be told that Egypt has a fine tradition of mid-eastern large band music (Oum Kaltsoum's band comes to mind) that when done well is irresistible. The bands of this sort have a vibrant percussion section, an oud or two and other plucked stringed instruments, perhaps a piano and string bass, reeds and a flute perhaps, and a violin section. Then of course there is usually a lead vocalist or two and backup singers.

If it is the real thing there is the traditional tuning of the orchestra which differs slightly from standard Western tuning. And the arrangements are highly developed.

A modern updating of this sound that keeps to the essentials of the style in exciting ways can be heard on the recent album by Jalilah's Raks Sharki. The album is called Stage Cuts.

It has all the elements described above and a pronounced rhythmic underpinning that makes it very much music for dance (but no, it sounds nothing like disco or the modern equivalent).

This is excellent music that brings out all that makes the style a joy to hear. It grooves like nothing else quite does.

Get with this one!

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