17 March 2008

Monday's mp3: No Green Beer

Yes, despite my own Irish heritage, I'm refraining from the shamrock-toting post today. Instead, I want to share a tune from one of the single most impressive musicians I've run across in some time.

Ashraf Hakim is an Egyptian cellist now based in the Seattle area. He's done the classical thing, playing with the Cairo Opera House, the Arabic Symphony Orchestra, and the Egyptian National Cultural Theater. He was born in Cairo to a French-Turkish mother and Egyptian father, and from his multicultural roots he's followed a path to multicultural music.

I first caught up to him a couple years ago when he was playing with the world-fusion band Hejira. Now he's apparently doing more solo gigs regionally, and I recently ran into him at a booking conference where he handed me a copy of his new CD, Sunrise.

His jaw-dropping abilities are on display throughout this CD, even though some of the song selections on it are perhaps chosen for their familiarity more than their cohesiveness in building an album with a theme. The CD includes, for example, Beethoven's 9th (almost 10 minutes long - see video below), the jazz standard "Misty," the iconic "Asho's Tango," and Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." Really, he's simply showing off his range and ability.

And Hakim is not all technique and no heart. I caught him jamming with a conga player and a pan steel player, an odd but fascinating trio (see photo) that, against all odds, worked. It worked primarily because all three were listening so intently to each other -- a mark of great musicians.

So here's a track from Ashraf Hakim. He says his CD will soon be available on CDbaby. Until then, you have only his incomplete website from which to learn more about this amazing artist.

[mp3] Ashraf Hakim: Mousolu
from the album Sunrise

on the web: www.ashrafhakim.com

Had a request to post something more Arabic by Hakim, since that's more what he's known for. So friends, I give you this additional video:

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