CD Review: Hossam Ramzy and Special Guests, Rock the Tabla

[ARC, 2011]

There’s good reason this album has been given the red carpet treatment by its label. What else do you do with such an amazing conglomeration of musical ideas other than spread the word far and wide? On the one hand there are moments of serene beauty, and on the other, complex, writhing, swirling rhythms from what seem like every angle and whole new dimensions. Can rhythms have textures? A thousand different ones? I swear these do, although I suppose the textures technically arise from the percussion instruments, which may not be quite infinitely varied, but they’re close to it.

As implied, the get-up-and-dance excitement of the intricate beats has a gorgeous counterbalance, namely the music’s North African/Middle East/Indian context, a bracing sweet and sour flavor that provides the artistic consistency. And the fact that it all works so well should come as no surprise considering the formidable talents involved. The renowned Hossam Ramzy himself has made a career of productive collaborations (including with Led Zeppelin), and here he’s done himself proud in gathering a handful of his most creative peers from the realms of jazz, worldbeat, film scores, and rock.

Decades past, when “supergroups” were the rage, a certain suspicion accompanied any new such effort: was it an ego thing? a marketing ploy? or more to the point: would anything worthwhile come of it? No problems with Rock the Tabla. It was obviously carefully planned and surely dependent on a big budget, but it’s noticeably unpretentious all the same, as implied by titles such as “Bluesy Flusey,” “Billy Dancing” and the bonus track “This could lead to dancing.” As for worthwhile results, the disc holds just over 53 minutes of stunning successes. This is a richly endowed musical tour de force, one of 2011’s major releases.



About Ted Boothroyd :

Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete. Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood. | View all posts by Ted Boothroyd

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Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete.

Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood.

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