Sunday, August 26, 2012

In review--Out of Egypt


Hossam Ramzy
Rhythms of the Nile
Introduction to Egyptian Dane Rhythms
Arc Music

Hossam Ramzy Presents
Egyptian Sufi
Sheikh Mohamed Al Helbawy
Arc Music

Hossam Ramzy’s Rhythms of the Nile goes back to 1997, but this double-CD set provides a primer for drummers wishing to check out Egyptian drums and rhythms.  The recording features two workshops that Ramzy taught for an Egyptian Dance school in London, England.  Ramzy gives clear demonstration of various rhythms, their context, and explains the different beats.  The list of rhythms include, Masmoudi, a broad rhythm used in Egypt, Fallahi used by Egyptian farmers, Zaar, which is used to drive evil spirits away complete with a ceremony, and the classical rhythm Samaai for starters.

The CD might seem out of context for a non-drummer or for someone just wanting to hear Egyptian drums.  However, I would recommend Rhythms of the Nile for anyone researching Egyptian music, belly dancers, drummers, and music journalists who cover world music.  Certainly, the recording feels more educational than entertaining, with the exception of people who enjoy lifelong learning and exploring new cultures.

While the CD Rhythms of the Nile falls mainly on the secular side of the divide, Egyptian Sufi (featuring Sufi Master Singer Sheikh Mohamed Al Helbawy), lands on the sacred side.  Joined by three Sufi vocalists, a drummer, and a traditional flute player, depending on a listener’s spiritual evolution and spiritual preference, the music presented here will either bring moments of ecstasy to the listener or cause her or him to feel restless.   Brief notes appear in the booklet that describes the history and context of Sufism and its sacred chants to get listeners primed.  I find that it’s best to listen to the chants in a quiet, relaxed space.  Either listen to the entire 12 tracks in one sitting (not recommended) or divide them into two listening sessions.  For best results, listen to the recording several times.

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