Tabadoul Orchestra - World Wide Wahab
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Tabadoul Orchestra
World Wide Wahab
Westpark Music (www.westparkmusic.de)

Revered Egyptian singer-composer-film actor Mohammed Abdel Wahab (1907–1991) was a controversial innovator, simultaneously praised and criticized for introducing western instrumentation and rhythms into Arab popular music. He wrote for well-loved contemporaries Oum Kalthoum and Abdel Halim Hafez, and enjoyed a film career that began in the silent era and transitioned into the talkies. Little known outside the Arabic-speaking world, Wahab's repertoire assumes quirky global character on this Tabadoul Orchestra debut. Comprising several members of Germany's eccentric Schäl Sick Brass Band, fronted by Cairo-born singer Dina Gouda, Tabadoul is led by guitarist-arranger Raimund Kroboth, with a first-rate ensemble rounded out by clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cimbalom, accordion, reed organ, trumpet, trombone, tuba, drums and percussion.

The result might be inadequately described as a martial percussive North African- Balkan-Bavarian-Klezmer-Levantine mash-up, as on such tunes as "Ayami," "Amal Hayati," "Ya Ward Meen Yeshtereek" or "Ech El Bolbol." It's all here, wailing rock guitar and a wall of brass trading licks with Nina Leonards' violin and Jura Wajda's Czech cimbalom, the latter echoing the qanun, a trapezoidal zither taking various forms in Egypt, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan and Iran, traceable to 10th-century Persia. Wahab was also a fan of Latin music, as audible in the cha-cha feel of "Ana Wa Habibi" and the wistful "Ishar," a lovely vehicle for Dina Gouda's exquisite vocal instrument. The many nuances of her keening style confirm that the cultural distance between Egypt, Greece, the Balkans and the Levant has always been more a matter of filigree—the deeply entwined aesthetic affinities and shared historical destiny of the eastern Mediterranean are unmistakable here. - Michael Stone

The artists' web site: www.tabadoul.de

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