Welcome to the Arabic Jazz blog!

Ahlan wa sahlan!

Welcome to my blog. I've created this blog to share information and news about music that mixes elements of jazz and Arabic music. I'll also share scores and transcriptions etc. for musicians.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Looks like Amazon broke the links to listen to clips from many of the albums I posted. I will try to go through and fix it all, and link to youtube or something instead.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bukra - Rabih Abou-Khalil Transcription

This is the title piece of of Rabih Abou-Khalil's album "Bukra". The album has a bunch of great tunes and some particularly intense saxophone playing by Sonny Fortune.
More info here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Okay, time for some shameless self-promotion!

An Arabic Jazz group that I created is working on recording an album, and if you're here, I think you may be interested in what we're doing.  Oud, trumpet, saxophone, bass, and percussion --what more could you want? Maybe if our funding goes over we can invite some surprise guests . . .

Please visit our project page at Kickstarter to find out more about it:

Nashaz New Album - Kickstarter

Nashaz - Arabic Jazz

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Xalam Project — Brandon Terzic

Oud player Brandon Terzic has put together a great group of musicians, featuring jazzman Matt Darriau (of Paradox Trio fame) on saxophone, kaval, and other wind instruments. Also featured is Matt Kilmer, one of NYC's top percussionists, and Peter Slavov, who currently plays bass with the legendary saxophonist Joe Lovano.

This music has a much more pronounced African influence than most oud music. Terzic spent time in Morocco and has clearly spent a great deal of time absorbing the rhythms and sounds of sub-Saharan Africa as well. The tunes allow a lot of room for improvisation--almost a jam-band type of ethos, as if the Grateful Dead or Phish had come instead from Sudan. Xalam strives for a danceable, feel-good sound, which it achieves—this is a fun album. It's still serious music, however: the musicianship and performances are excellent, by first-rate musicians.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Michel Bismut — Ur

I recently came across this album, a nicely balanced mixing of jazz and Arabic music.  Somewhat reminiscent of Rabih Abou-Khalil's music, but with more emphasis on traditional Arabic elements, especially with the oud playing.  I can't seem to find out much about the musicians.  Anyone know about them? I particularly enjoy the playing of Pardo and Nabil Khalidi.

 Michel Bismut (double bass), Jorge Pardo (soprano saxophone), Nabil Khalidi (oud), Keyvan Chemirani (zarb, daf, gatam)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nadim — Rabih Abou Khalil Sheet Music

Here's another one by Rabih Abou-Khalil.  This is from al-Jadida (roughly, "the new thing"), the first album I ever heard of his. Enjoy!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Bill Frisell — The Intercontinentals

Bill Frisell is a unique musician, and probably the most immediately identifiable jazz guitarist of the past 30 years. He is constantly exploring new ensemble sounds and The Intercontinentals is a group that he put together to showcase the sounds of Africa and the middle east. Christos Govetas is a Greek oud player from Macedonia who plays in the Turkish style.

I guess this is another one that doesn't qualify as "Arabic", but I bend the rules for any jazz with oud. This is a really good album, one that appeals to a wide range of people. Frisell reportedly conceived the project as a collaboration with legendary Malian guitarist Boubacar Traore, but unfortunately it was not possible to make the record with him. They are joined by violinist Jenny Scheinmann, Brazilian guitarist Vinicius Canturia, and Malian percussionist Sidiki Camara, as well as slide guitarist Greg Leisz.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Marcel Khalife — Taqasim

Marcel Khalife needs no introduction to those familiar with the oud. A masterful player, composer, singer, and songwriter, he has contributed much to the world of Arabic music and oud playing. This album, a straightforward trio with bass and percussion, showcases the oud and the jazzier side of his playing in a stripped-down acoustic setting. Highly recommended.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Souren Baronian — Taksim

Souren Baronian is a tremendously talented Armenian-American clarinetist with extensive experience in both middle-eastern music and jazz. While his middle-eastern jazz music has influences primarily from Turkey and Armenia, and therefore isn't "Arabic jazz" exactly, I felt that the kinship of maqam-based music made it worthy of mention here. He studied with the reclusive jazz legend Lennie Tristano as well as the respected Turkish master Safet Gundeger, and has performed with many jazz greats like Carla Bley, Phil Woods, Paul Motian.

 He leads Taksim, his group that presents an original synthesis of jazz and eastern music. Their album from 2002 "Blue Algae" is worth a listen for Boronian's unique compositional and playing styles, as well as the masterful musicians in the group like the phenomenal oud player Haig Manoukian.

In addition, he performs in ensemble that have a somewhat more traditional approach, like his trio Transition, which released a wonderful album called Desert Winds.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rabih Abou Khalil Sheet Music — Nightfall

Rabih Abou-Khalil was the first oud player I ever heard. The first year or so after I started playing the oud, I transcribed a ton of his tunes. I led a kind of "tribute" band for a while in New Orleans that focused on playing his music. I'm going to post some of them here occasionally. This one is “Nightfall” off his album Between Dusk and Dawn. It uses the Sama'i Thaqil rhythm, but doesn't adhere to the traditional Sama'i form.

You can get the mp3 album from Amazon:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gord Grdina

Gord Grdina is a talented jazz guitarist, oud player and composer from Vancouver, B.C.
He has a bunch of records which feature different aspects of his playing and writing.

One of the most notable is Think Like the Waves, recorded in 2006.  Grdina wrote all the music, and plays guitar and oud alongside the legendary jazz musicians Gary Peacock and Paul Motian.
Peacock is best known as the longstanding bassist in Keith Jarrett's “Standards” trio, while Motian led a number of groups in NY over the years after gaining notoriety with Bill Evans' trio with Scott LaFaro.

Grdina is adventurous—this music, while informed by tradition, is at least equally influenced by jazz musicians like Paul Bley, Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, and Ornette Coleman.  Peacock mentored Grdina for many years and they clearly have a special relationship on this recording. 

Click the image to listen to or purchase the album on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shusmo - Mumtastic

Buzuq player and composer Tareq Abboushi has put together another excellent Arabic-meets-jazz record, entitled Mumtastic. 
Tareq studied jazz and piano at the esteemed William Patterson University in New Jersey, but grew up in Ramallah and has lived in Brooklyn for the past several years.  A soulful player and improviser with a deep sense of tarab, he is also a very talented composer with a gift for lively, memorable tunes.

Shusmo's previous recording "One" was excellent, and this is may be even better.
A better review than I can write is here: www.rootsworld.com/0603123/reviews/mumtastic-11.shtml

Astrakan Café - Sheet Music

Here's a transcription I did of the title piece from Anouar Brahem's album Astrakan Cafe. There are two versions on the album. They are mainly the same, but are slightly different in the number of repeats and some of the rhythms are played with variations throughout. I tried to create an overall version. Another ending possibility is just repeating the last four bars and fading out.

You can purchase this great album from Amazon:
Astrakan Café