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“Sound of the Sultans”Album review

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

by Ma*Shuqa “Sound of the Sultans”: Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Ibrahim Turmen, Amin and Raymond Khoury, Sherif Sarakby, Nick Mouganis, and Hadji Tekbilek - the Sultans band

Just Released "Sound of the Sultans" by the label LifeArt, is the album joining together eleven remastered versions of some of the band's best works. The leader of the Sultans, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, formed the Sultans with his brother-in- law Ibrahim Turmen way back in the seventies. Since then, some of the most talented musicians, such as Sherif Sarakby, Nick Mouganis, Hadji Tekbilek, Amine, and Raymond Khoury, have played in the Sultans. "Sound of the Sultans" delivers eleven pieces of significant cultural importance, remastered from original recordings, and carefully restored to improve the quality of the songs while keeping the artistic interpretations untouched. Listening to the "Sound of the Sultans" evokes many memories, and I realize why dancers who began performing in the 70s are improvisational performers. Before the advent of music on cassette tapes and cell phones, we all performed with live bands, many playing Turkish songs. I fondly remember performing with The Sultans at a performance in San Francisco in the 70s. And, I have memories of other beautiful performances with bands playing some of these same Turkish pieces as I recall the many shows with Scirocco band (CA, USA) and my Turkish bands when performing in Germany. I enjoy collaborating with Faruk to develop music reviews for his music that provides rhythmic and instrumental describes opportunities and possibilities for performing to his music. Dancers, teachers and dance students finally have the opportunity to cherish and enjoy the music of The Sultans band. This album from The Sultans reimagines the band that recorded several cassette tapes many years ago. This music drives you to dance your best and enjoy performing because the music and the arrangements are so vibrant. Another reason you will want this music – for all those who have attended Middle East Music and Dance Camp at the Mendocino Highlands Campground in California – you now have an opportunity to fill the void that exists because COVID prevented us from gathering and enjoying Faruk's music at Camp. TRACK LISTING 1-Habibi Ya Ayni (6:13) Begins with soulful keyboard taxim for a beautiful flowing entrance with a veil. Call and answer with singer, chorus, and percussion – allows the dancer to mirror the call answer structure in the music. The musical theme becomes more complex with percussion, and the typical "Yallah Yalla, Yalla" is sung. Then, the nai is heard in the next section. Then, a return to the singer and chorus for the central theme. There is a percussion break with call and answer. A keyboard taqsim section with a musical drone and syncopation styling. I love the musical interactions and exchanges between instruments. Nice Maqsum with percussive solos makes it an exciting piece with syncopation, rolls, and change in dynamics to a quiet end. 2-Mona Nay Solo (9.07) I Love this elegant taqasim keyboard introduction. Next, a 2/4 Dawr Hindy rhythm builds with an exciting theme into percussion bridges. A beautiful nai call and response with the band and the percussion. Teachers, this is an excellent piece for traveling 3⁄4 shimmies punctuated with shimmies and accented steps to the 4/4 Bamby rhythm. Nai returns with a call and response from the other musicians. The driving keyboard section transitions into a 2/4 Karachy rhythm section with a sudden stop. Then, a beautiful nai section with the sound of wind and lilting nai for a deeply felt taqasim. This section would work for either a slow veil or a balancing act with a sword or tray. This section could even work well for a "dance on water glasses atop a silk veil." The following percussion section begins with a complex Maqsum with drum rolls and syncopated accents. Next, hear a whistle and Yalla – as the piece goes into an intricate percussion set with riq, def, with the call and answer between drums and other percussionists. In the end, the keyboard leads the Tutah finale with bongos and doumbeq to an exciting finish. 3-Yollar Uzak, Yarim Kalan Ask, Yesillim (7.02) Nai leads the piece, accompanied by keyboard and percussion. 4/4 rhythm with a beautiful melody with syncopated accents. Opportunity for the dancer to dance, stop, and do shimmy and undulation accents to mirror the maqam runs and percussive accents. The piece slows and moves on with a beautiful Bolero rhythm with percussive accents and trills and slides to follow and ornament your dancing. A must to dance this piece with a lovely and dynamic veil with turns and poses with undulations. The Bolero section is accented with intricate leit motifs – an absolute pleasure to dance with that makes your performance dynamic. The piece finishes with a 2/4 Karachy finale and the song “Yesillim”. Teachers, this piece offers the complexity of musical ornamentation that provides a “teachable opportunity” to educate dancers about the Middle Eastern musicality and structure of ornamentation: trills, accented percussion, leit motif musical designs, maqam runs as well as changes to different rhythms in this piece. 4-Nadya (3.45) This piece begins with an exciting introduction with windchime and percussion patterns in a rhythmic Ayub 2/4. You'll love the musical accents for the opportunity to make a performance exciting by mirroring the musicality. Tribal dancers will love the zurna sound. The piece would be ideal for a party performance with audience participation. 5-Mastika (4.07) You'll love this dynamic entrance with percussion, including the tabla Balady drum, drone mizmar, zurna, and mizwig—an exciting 9/8 piece with Faruk and Ibrahim singing. I love the next part of this set with the percussion call and answer in the middle of the work. Then singing continues next, featuring the Hadji playing alto saxophone for an excellent soulful taqasim section. Finally, handclapping indicates the end of the piece with saghareets and the typical Opah! 6-Tfarrak Al Halawah (3.49) A fast piece with nai and zurna. A good selection for a fast cane dance. Or an excellent musical piece for a party. Many dance troupes have choreographies ready for this piece (I can recall and picture John Compton's Habibi Ru Troupe and Amina Goodyear's Aswan Dancers dancing to this piece). You will love how exciting this version is. I love the rhythmic change to the slower, then picks up again to the end. Saidi rhythm that features the nai and zurna. 7-Zennube Nay Solo (5.45) What a grand opening – nai and alto nai duet. Then, percussion leads into the song with a snappy 4/4. Next, nay is featured, then joined by tabla Balady percussion and zurna. Another great piece of music for a dance troupe. Halfway through, the music stops and transitions with a soulful nay solo with windchimes for an entrancing taqasim. Then the percussion enters the mix and plays the unique Zeffah rhythm and the exotic sound of a gong. 8-Beytu's Shabab, Zurna Solo, Haddouni (9.07) This piece opens with a taqasim. This is a complex piece with different sections, perfect for a dance troupe show featuring various dance artists. Zurna solo first, then a chorus of shouts along with percussion. 4/4 rhythm makes this piece great for takhteb dance for men and perhaps a cane dance for the women in a troupe. Tribal style troupes will love this piece – it reminds me of Jamilla Salimpour's Bal Anat Troupe at the Rennaissance Faire in CA, USA. A good selection for a Dervish dance. Then, the piece stops and moves into a slow Chifte telli rhythm with zurna. Excellent music for a snake or sword dance with sound dynamics for slow backbends and undulating body and stomach rolls with tiny shimmies - I can see Frank Farinaro. He specializes in this form of dancing or John Compton dancing on the floor with his huge brass tray. The ending piece is Haddouni, a bright 4/4 maksoum led by the zurna, followed by nay and singing. An excellent piece for a dance troupe with choreography for dance and finger cymbals. Wonderful music teaches beginning students how to listen and dance to the various sections in this piece. 9-Dere (4.45) This recording features the beauty of Faruk's zurna playing. I love the dynamic introduction with the zurna and tabla Baladi drum. Wow-what a nice 9/8 rhythm with Turkish style percussion. Faruk and Ibrahim sing this popular piece. Dere is the piece often heard during the Turkish cabaret shows at many a Middle East Camps in Mendocino, CA, USA. And, this is the piece that is played as the campers assemble at the dining hall, and all together, dancers and musicians dance and play as they walk down to the concert hall. This is an icon piece and truly provides the opportunity to engage together in a heart-warming camp community experience. You can hear the smile on Faruk's face as he sings this piece and relates with others. 10-Emine (3.45) Dramatic Zurna call and percussion introduction. Nay and zurna in a beautiful collaboration in a piece with musical stops– where the singer and audience say "Oye, oye – 3 claps". Karachi 2/4 rhythm with whistles and handclapping make this a perfect piece for audience participation in a Turkish restaurant, party, or concert with The Sultans. 11-Maa's Salama (3.58) Such a beautiful 6/8m rhythm begins with nay and percussion. Include the nay trills and then mirror them with tiny shimmies overlaying dynamic rolling undulations and waltz- like steps with arabesques. Teachers, this would be an ideal piece to teach veil dancing – with instruction to keep the veil moving dynamically. I envision dancers performing this piece with lilting movements and beautiful arms as dancers turn with traveling chasse movements. Sound of the Sultans LifeArt World Label: LifeArt Catalog No.: LIFEART017 Genre: World | Mediterranean Management: Gate Productions Note; Genre: World | Mediterranean is not a must if it’s there or not. But the other info is important and Genre goes along well with it. Life art is our label, and they will help us promote the article as well. Check them out, if you like: Spotify – Sound of the Sultans (Remaster), Lifeart World

Ma*Shuqa has known Faruk Tekbilek for many years and had the pleasure of performing and teaching a long ago dancers’ workshop on Turkish music with Faruk. We share a beautiful history of performing together each year at Middle East Camp in Mendocino Woodlands, CA. Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan (translates sweetheart of treasure) – is an internationally recognized entertainer, belly dance school, studio owner and dance coach for award winning performers. Famous for spectacular Isis Wings performance, elegant choreographies, energetic shows, and musicality in performance with finger cymbals and her “Elegance of Style”. Ma*Shuqa authors articles on Middle Eastern music and rhythms, and Raqs Sharqi Oriental dance professional performance, music, books, instructional and performance media, topics in health education, dance movement styling, performance photography sessions. The Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan School of Belly Dance in Los Gatos, California, USA opened in 1976. Her Ma*Shuqa Method promotes unique, personalized improvised performance through technique, core body alignment and strength, and performance movement that matches musicality of Middle Eastern music and creating performances with Taraab – emotionally connected dance.

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