George Abdo Best of George Abdo and His Flames of Araby Orchestra
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- by George Abdo & the Flames of Araby Orchestra ~ Belly Dancing With George Abdo ~ $16.89
- Released: May 6, 2002
- Originally Released: 2002
- Label: Smithsonian Folkways
The Wire - 7/02, p.70"...This Stateside bellydance ensemble makes a great case for its eclectic repertoire, culturally encompassing several Middle Eastern countries in addition to tinctures of US pop and jazz..."
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Personnel: George Abdo (vocals); Mark Bichajian, Manny Petro (guitar); John Haddad (violin, electric violin, viola); Ted Vartabed (violin, electric violin); Martin Yaffee (oboe); Greg Hopkins (trumpet); Chris Marashlian, Ken Kalajian (bass guitar); Mitchell Kaltsunas (congas, claves); Arthur Chingris (bongos, cymbals); Stephen Kouyoumjian (bongos); Amir (finger cymbals).
Editor: Jacob Love.
Arranger: George Abdo.
Kitsch? Well yes, it is. But apart from being a lot of fun, there's a lot to be learned from this CD. A compilation of what George Abdo and his men did, ostensibly for the belly dancing circuit, although more popular among immigrants from around the Mediterranean and Middle East, it's an object lesson in how a new land changes music. They adapted it to America, making it decidedly more loungy (just listen to Abdo's singing, strongly influenced by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Perry Como), and slowly removing the more ethnic elements, like those awkward quarter-tones in the melody, to achieve a synthesis that was, ultimately, completely American -- ready for the new world, hearkening back over its shoulder at the old. The patina of tradition was there, but really, this was American music as much as jazz or rock & roll. And that's quite an achievement. Whether tracks like "Ya Gameel" or the terribly cheesy "Sahirrnee" are classics remains to be seen. But, on the evidence of this, Abdo really did do something -- and how many places will you hear cocktail piano and Latin congas ready to wiggle behind a veil? ~ Chris Nickson
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