Andre Hajj & Ensemble Instrumental Music from Lebanon - Amaken

Like ceremonial tea, Amaken, a showcase of traditional Middle Eastern arrangements and phrases, is best delved into wholly and attentively. A Lebanese professor of the oud (lute) at that country's national conservatory, Andre Hajj on this disc assembles a rich collection of Oriental Takht pieces (orchestra in Arabic, loosely). The arrangements are comprised of two main elements: string instruments like the oud, qanoun (complex Oriental piano played with 26 strings), ney (one of the oldest known flutes) and rebab (a form of violin), all shimmying along to Arabic percussion, including the riq and katem frame drums and the tabla and doumbek hand drums. Redolent Persian pieces like "Amaken" and "Mafra'Tari" share space with introspective oud solos ("Dafa") and sublime, majestic progressions ("Ahl El Hayy"). Epic instrumental voyages like "Raqsa" and "Mir" enchant as well, for listeners with the patience and curiosity to sit for each chapter the arrangements bring. This is a fine disc for anyone entranced enough by this mystical, gorgeous form enough to surrender to its cadence. (Arc)