Thursday, February 16, 2012

يا سلام يا أردن

Jordanian band Signs of Thyme, or زمن الزعتر (puns were bred in the Levant) have been making music since 2005, but shamefully, I’ve only just stumbled across their beautiful Arabic-Jazz fusion sounds. Made up of (currently) three uber talented men, including Yacoub Abu Ghosn on bass, Ahmad Barakat on the oud and Nasser Salameh replaces Tarek Abu Kweik’s drums on percussion.

Nights of Nai is my obsession (below), from their first album ‘Like All People’ (buy here) - which to me sounds like a night out in Amman, sitting in the crisp summer breeze, smoking shisha (water pipe) with family at the Orthodox country club, while the tawleh (backgammon) players shuffle their checkers and the pile of brined turmus (lupine beans) skins grows ever higher on the mezze-laden table.

Their second (and evidently last) album, ‘Zad’ (from the Bedouin word for ‘travel provisions’) embraces a more heavily Arabic sound, with jazz-ified tunes inspired by North African & Levantine classics, including tracks from legends like Muhammad Abdel Wahab.

The problem with this outstanding talent is that Jordan still hasn’t created a platform, capable of nurturing, developing and inevitably, promoting performers, musicians and otherwise. Sure, bands like Torabyeh and El Far3i have their audiences and Amman-based tours (barr the occasional one abroad), but they remain majorly unknown & unheard internationally, regionally and on some levels, even nationally speaking.

Maybe if we spent less on royalty’s Elie Saab dresses and more investing in local talent, we could really give the world something to talk about, albeit unrelated to politics and civil unrest.

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