Jalilah’s Raks Sharki 6
In a Beirut Mood
If one wants to step out of the Hollywood image of the Arab fanatic, the misogynist, the terrorist and the fanatic Arab misogynist terrorist, a good place to start is Arab music (though the food ain’t bad, neither). Jalilah (a Californian of Mexican and German descent) has appointed herself your cultural guide, and she will take you waist-deep into the world of raks sharki (what we call belly dancing). This sixth installment of her tribute to the dance, its culture and music focuses on the Lebanese branch of the tradition (others have been odes to the Nile gypsy dancers and Egyptian film music).
To pull her producer’s vision off, she’s recruited pianist/bassist/conductor Ihsan Al-Mounzer. A fantastic choice. Al-Mounzer has assembled some utterly incredible artists to assist. If you can step out of your own, mediated experiences into another world, you simply will not stop dancing. In a Beirut Mood is a kinetic delight full of life and passion, a sweat-dripping sensuality that leaves the listener sated, reaching for a post-sharki cigarette.
This is an hour of beautiful music. Songs like “Al-Houriyah” and “Tales of the Sahara” explode out of your speaker. “Beirut Rhythms” is an amazing display of drumming. “Lebanese Bouquet” is a funky, little groove that builds into a mad dervish delight and “Ali’s Nay” is an exquisite drum ‘n’ flute song. There is simply not a moment that won’t be enjoyed here for the open of mind and multi-culti in tastes.