Saturday, January 15, 2011

Amine & Hamza: Sounds of Tunisia

When Tom was on his way to Washington DC with the orchestra in 2008, he spotted a fellow passenger in the immigration queue carrying an instrument case that could only contain an oud. He bounced up to say hello and Amine M'Raihi was only too delighted to find someone who recognised this historic and beautiful Arabic instrument and wanted to know more. He and his brother, Hamza, who plays the kanun -- a type of zither -- were in fact on their way to perform at the Kennedy Center.

The brothers come from Tunisia and enjoy a successful international career as a duo; they have made seven CDs and play both together and in larger ensembles that mingle their characteristically north African sounds with jazz and modern influences. Extraordinarily enough, they are also studying medicine in Krakow.  We visited them there in the snow in 2009 and loved spending time in their warm, sparkly, astute company. They are wonderful, creative, sensitive musicians. More about them from Virtual Womex, here.

Today, given the developments in their homeland, I wanted to play the above song -- appropriately named 'Challenge' -- to let them know we are thinking of them and all the people of Tunisia.

Further reading: over at On An Overgrown  Path, Pliable has a fascinating thread devoted to the music of Tunisia.