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Samara & Maurice Chedid | Ya Samara

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World: Middle East Traditional World: Middle East Contemporary Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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Ya Samara

by Samara & Maurice Chedid

Original contemporary Middle Eastern music in traditional Lebanese and Egyptian styles.
Genre: World: Middle East Traditional
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Hob-bi Al Awal - My First Love
6:47 $0.99
2. Ya Samara
4:35 $0.99
3. Oud Solo
3:54 $0.99
4. Nassim As Sahara - Desert Breeze (Rhumba)
4:10 $0.99
5. Alouli - They Told Me (Dabke)
5:17 $0.99
6. Raks Ajam
5:22 $0.99
7. Lammanta Nawy - Since You\'re Willing
4:55 $0.99
8. Ala Eini - On My Eye
5:45 $0.99
9. Raks Saidi
5:45 $0.99
10. Accordion Baladi
4:17 $0.99
11. Drum Solo
4:49 $0.99
12. Ayoub Kaflah (Finale)
2:24 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
SAMARA has dedicated her life to the dances of the Middle East and North Africa. She was drawn to Oriental Dance via her Mediterranean heritage (Greek and Turkish). She began dancing professionally in her teens having already studied other dance forms extensively. Samara was a protégé of the late master dancer/teacher/choreographer Ibrahim Farrah. As a member and principle dancer in his renowned Near East Dance Group, she performed in some of America’s most prestigious concert halls including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. As a soloist Samara has performed in nightclubs and theaters throughout the United States, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. She has shared the stage with some of the most famous singers of the Middle East, as well as with the American pop singer Christine Aguilera at The MTV Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall. Samara is the choreographer and artistic director of the Mosaic Dance Theater Company and has choreographed many theatrical productions. She teaches in NYC and conducts seminars throughout the U.S. and abroad, and is a faculty member of the Alvin Ailey Extension. For more information visit: www.samaradance.com.

MAURICE CHEDID was born in Lebanon. He studied oud and voice at Beirut Conservatory. As a bandleader, he worked with some of the biggest names in Arabic music in theater, TV and recordings. He also performed and made recordings of his original music. As the main singer with the Lebanese Tourist Folkloric Group, he traveled and performed all over the world. Maurice came to the United States in 1988. Since then, he has performed in Arabic nightclubs and in many prestigious venues, including the United Nations, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. He is a popular singer/musician at weddings, festivals, and cultural events all over the U.S. Maurice composed original music for the Off-Broadway play, Banat El Amir. As a member of the band Atzilut, which features Arabic and Jewish music, he travels to Europe every year to play in distinguished theaters such as the Royal Opera Theater in Denmark, and in many famous music and cultural festivals throughout Europe.

Modern Tradition: Ya Samara

Original Music for Oriental Dance by Maurice Chedid

Produced by Samara

Review by Nina Costanza
Samara of New York is already highly respected internationally as a professional dancer, one who has devoted her life to dances of the Middle East and North Africa – as instructor, performer, and choreographer. Ya Samara is her first venture into producing music for Oriental dance. She worked closely with Maurice Chedid, a New York, Lebanese-born vocalist, composer, and oud player, also well-regarded as a virtuosic performer (and orchestra leader) of mostly Lebanese-style music. If any “dance” music is truly “good,” it can stand on its own: one can be invigorated listening to it without necessitating visuals to amplify its effect. It should also really make you want to dance. This first venture, illustrating a true collaboration of musician/composer and dancer, has resulted in a fine product of original compositions suitable for both dancer and listener. It demonstrates, unpretentiously, the intrinsic relationship between music and dance, produced in collaboration by artists who know this connection intimately. Hopefully, Ya Samara is an introduction of more to come.

The mostly instrumental compilation (12 tracks, approximately 60 minute duration) is the outcome of professionals who understand each other’s work, the performing artist, and audience. The critical components that render a finely-tuned production are all present here: original compositions, expressive and expert executions, clean arrangements, excellent production quality; and intelligent selections and organization. Its organization reflects the traditional Oriental dance show, progressing from a dramatic opening through various integrated rhythms (saidi, dabke, baladi, rhumba, etc.), songs (from poetic to arousing) to taksims (accordion and oud) and culminating in a classy drum solo and eloquent finale (ayoub). The CD can be utilized for an entire performance piece; or each single track, in and of itself, can be performed as individual compositions.

Samara’s and Maurice Chedid’s signature styles are imprinted on Ya Samara: Samara’s knowledge of the dancer’s specific needs to make an artful performance and Maurice’s ear for danceable tunes. Samara, who began dancing professionally in her teens after studying other dance forms extensively, was a protégé of the late Ibrahim Farrah and a principal dancer in his Near East Dance Group. As a soloist, she has performed worldwide, including the Middle East. She is artistic director and choreographer of Mosaic Dance Theater Company and continues to teach seminars in the US and abroad. Lebanese-born Maurice Chedid studied oud and voice at the Beirut Conservatory. He has worked with many acclaimed artists and was principal vocalist with the internationally-touring Lebanese Folkloric Group. After coming to the US in 1988, he has continued to perform in Arabic nightclubs as lead vocalist and bandleader. Samara and Chedid have performed together for many years in theaters and cabaret shows, most notably at New York’s former Cedars of Lebanon. It is not surprising that this musical collaboration would not be otherwise than a seamless and vigorous dialog between composer/musician and dancer, artists of our time who are well-versed in traditions and know how to build on experience and ingenuity to produce something new, exciting, and valuable. This is not old-fashioned mimicry or an educational reprise of music from “over there.” While it lends itself to stylistic traditions of the Middle East, Ya Samara is as refreshingly compelling as our newer “traditions” (fusion, one-themed pop songs, etc.) which often rely on a one-dimensional sound-hook or amplification to incite interest. Integral to good music is great melody and a solid rhythmic foundation. The rhythmic base here modulates within each piece, is never forced, and gives the melody line a grounding to move freely through its own innovative elocutions. With constantly and organically evolving melodies – from introspective mahwals, sensuous themes, to hip-stirring songs, sometimes integrated within one selection – and a ferociously articulate, “real” tabla as its structural foundation, Ya Samara is three-dimensional. There are no “lull” points. Ya Samara “brings it on” with depth, subtlety, surprise, and –yes— drama.

The intricacies of the musical arrangements – including the versatility of the keyboard player to access different instrumentals; the tabla player’s dexterity to “sound” pitches between accents; and the internal, melodic logic within each song – make the musicians, Maurice Chedid (oud, lead vocals, percussion); Ouail Aboulhassane (tabla, percussion, background vocals); and Jawad Bohsina (keyboard, background vocals), sound like a full, acoustic orchestra. Maurice has an unusually distinctive voice: Rich and complicated, one that can be beautifully melodious or rhythmically gritty in that idiosyncratic Middle Eastern way. Production engineer, Larry Russell, is masterful in balancing lines. The music is alternatively emotive and fun, crisp and sultry, with each “voice” of the arrangement being at once singularly distinguishable (the tik and tak are so clean!)and artistically blended. Each composition arcs through the intelligent design that propels it.

Hob-bi Al Awal (“My First Love,” Track 1) is perfect as an introduction to an Oriental dance with its exposed instrumentation moving expressively between fast and slow sections. Ya Samara (Track 2, a favorite) is a Lebanese-flavored, upbeat song (with saidi rhythms interspersed), ala Nadia Gamal. Track 3’s Oud Solo, resplendent with Chedid’s virtuosity, contains rhythmic underpinnings, a sonic layering that lifts the piece from one to listen to, to one for dancing. Nassim As Sahara (“Desert Breeze,” Track 4) is an intense rhumba, reminiscent of Hollywood “harem” classics. Its orchestral arrangement, with themes shifting among oud, strings, brass, and woodwinds, makes this a favorite. Alouli (“They Told Me,” Track 5, a favorite), starting with a mahwal, builds to a pulsating, deeply-rhythmic dabke. Raks Ajam (Track 6) contains several motifs between its main themes, resulting in a grandiose Oriental orchestration. Lammanta Nawy (“Since You’re Willing,” Track 7, a favorite), with its resonant mahwal and baladi, is an earthy song, capitalizing on Maurice’s seductive voice. Ala Eini (“On My Eye,” Track 8) is a cheerful, Lebanese-style song, alternating between vocals and instrumental sections. Raks Saidi (Track 9) represents a more standard, though originally-composed, saidi. The Accordion Baladi (Track 10), a taksim,beautifully phrased, comes across as naturally as breathing. In the Drum Solo (Track 11), Aboulhassane incorporates complex phrases with inventive, internal accents, and he varies speed and volume, making for a motivating performance piece. Ayoub Kaflah (Finale, Track 12) is not merely a recapitulation of the introduction; the ayoub rhythm leads to a new melody with dramatic flare – a perfect conclusion.

Contemporary productions of classic style are often boring. Their melodies may have great beginnings, but then go nowhere. The percussion, if not a drum machine with its 4-4 beats, often reverts to the over-simplified, overly-symmetrical, four-repetitions-of-a-rhythm blueprint. Too often, a polished-sounding, well-produced CD, replicating old-style, just stagnates. Ya Samara is an honest work: comprehending the relationships of dance and music, the new and the traditional, its producers have surrendered to these connections. Ya Samara represents a revitalizing evolution of Middle Eastern music: an inspirational return to traditions of musical structure and movement knowledge and a recreation of these models to incorporate the flash of our contemporary world – “back to the future.”

Music dictates dance. With this music, the dancer is reminded of forgotten movements, forgotten intricacies, forgotten richness and how close Oriental dance vocabulary is to its origins. Ya Samara contains the theatrics characteristic of modern genres, but also the subtle profundity, raw carnality, and sensitive eloquence of the traditional – something we have been missing.



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