Category Archives: Lebanon

Happy Anniversary Part 6: Jazz and Related Sounds


And so we now come to a tri-partite celebration of jazz sounds as part of the ongoing commemoration of the Washerman’s Dog achieving the milestone of 700 posts (way back a couple of months ago). Thank you again to all visitors, regulars and encouragers along the way, its been a blast and I don’t’ see any reason to cease and desist any time soon.


Volume one is entitled Blue Vindaloo. Straight ahead jazz mixed with a fair number of Asian and Asian-inspired tracks by jazz artists from Afghanistan to Japan. Check out the Afghan Jazz Unit’s tremendous Spinboldak Saxophony.

Title track from the Pakistani-American uber guitarist Rez Abbasi.


Volume two is titled Afro Jazz and indeed here you will find much jazz from the Continent, as well as soukous, pop and other African delights.  Highlights this time are from Angola!  Title track comes via the mighty Madilu of DRC.


Volume three, Blow Baby, Blow is dedicated to outstanding brass, woodwind and brass band jazz. Sax, trumpet, tuba and trombone. Greats and unknowns.  Hope you enjoy.

blue vindaloo

Track Listing (Vol. 1):

01 Time Is Right Dr. L Subramaniam]

02 Beauty Of The Flower [Christoph Stiefel and Lissette Spinnler]

03 Elveen [Wynton Marsalis]

04 Spinboldak Saxophony [Afghan Jazz Unit]

05 Ranglypso [Ernest Ranglin]

06 Painted Paradise [Jiro Inagaki and Soul Media]

07 Fat Mouth [Weldon Irvine]

08 Yes, Sir That’s My Baby [Nat King Cole]

09 Abbaji (For Alla Rakha) [John McLaughlin]

10 Hub-Tones [Freddie Hubbard]

11 Eastern Dawn [Amancio D’Souza]

12 Sueño de Amor (Chachachá) [feat. Cachao] [Bonus Track] Generoso Jimenez]

13 Fried Pies (Take 1) [Wes Montgomery]

14 Tempo De Amor [Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes]

15 What a Little Moonlight Can Do [Billie Holiday]

16 Harlem On Saturday Night [Lil Hardin Armstrong and Her Orchestra]

17 Benson’s Rider [George Benson]

18 The Best Is Yet To Come [Mr. President]

19 Nuit sur les Champs-Elysees(1) [Miles Davis]

20 Awaara Hoon [Sunny Jain Collective]

21 Sina Nari [Hüsnü Şenlendirici]

22 Tanzania [Sadao Watanabe]

23 Summertime [Ahmed Abdul Malik]

24 Garuda [Raga Bop Trio]

25 The Look Of Love [Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66]

26 Quaze Caindo [Ricardo Herz Trio]

27 The Lewinsky March. [Rabih Abou-Khalil]

28 Ma’am A’rif Leh (Gingele) [Salma]

29 Blu Vindaloo [Rez Abbasi]

30 Raga Piloo [Joe Harriot & John Mayer]


beau souvenir

Track Listing (Vol. 2)

01 Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive [Hugh Masakela]

02 Margret Odero [D.O. Misiani & Shirati Jazz]

03 Muasi Oweli Bela [bolero] [Vicky et l’OK Jazz]

04 Bolingo Ekomisi Ngai Liboma [L’orchestre Zembe Zembe]

05 Kulekule [Konono No.1 De Mingiedi]

06 La Bycicletta [Keletigui et Ses Tambourines]

07 Avante Juventude [Os Anjos]

08 Whiskey et Coca-Cola [Amadou Balake]

09 Black Egypt -Intro [Bukky Leo and Black Egypt]

10 Soweto Blues [Mariam Makeba]

11 Awa Awa [Wes]

12 Koki (Hot Koki) [Andre Marie Tala]

13 Tweta [Mombasa Party and Zuhura Swaleh]

14 Injuria [Jose ‘Zeca’ Neves]

15 Hymn for the War Orphans [Zimology]

16 Na boyi danbinzi [Orchestre Mando Negro]

17 Onyame [Ashanti Afrika Jah]

18 Sogodounou [Nahawa Doumbia]

19 1er Gaou (Ivory Coast) [Magic System]

20 Kyrie eleison [Orcestre Hi Fives]

21 Ting’ Badi Malo [Gidigidi Majimaji]

22 Din Ya Sugri [Christy Azuma & Uppers International]

23 Gidelam [Baaba Maal]

24 Tollon Tollon [Afro National]

25 Ichibanda [Oliya Band]

26 Revolution [Sonny Okosun]

27 Mosquito [Flaming Souls]

28 Beau Souvenir [Madilu System]

29 Black Woman Experience [Geraldo Pino]

30 Despedida [Dimba Diangola]


Blow Baby Blow

Track Listing: (Vol. 3)

01 Blue Light [Ben Webster]

02 Black Man’s Cry [Fela Kuti with Afrika 70 and Ginger Baker]

03 Zomaye [Gigi]

04 Minnie the Moocher [Big Bad Voodoo Daddy]

05 Skalloween [Skatalites]

06 From Boogie to Funk part 1_ The Blues [Bill Coleman]

07 Don’t Take Your Love From Me [Frank Rosolino Quintet]

08 See-F [Ceasar Frazier]

09 Instant Groove [King Curtis]

10 Time Is Running Out Fast [James Brown]

11 Satan’s Blues [Don Bryon]

12 i want a little girl [Big Joe Turner]

13 John McLaughlin [Miles Davis]

14 Misterioso [Sonny Rollins]

15 Sida Gangbe Brass Band]

16 The Lonely Bull (El Solo Toro) [Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass]

17 Balkan Reggae [Mahala Rai Banda]

18 Qonqoza [Dudu Phukwana]

19 Got No Money [Dusko Gojkovic]

20 Crazy Mixed Up World [Little Walter]

21 Ad Lib Blues [Lester Young]

22 Need You (right now) [Trumpet Thing]

23 Kuenda Namwendo [The Umtali Chipisa Band]

24 Blues for Harvey [Johnny Griffin]

25 Celestial Bliss [Rahsaan Roland Kirk]

26 Frantic Activity [Rhythm Funk Masters]

27 Struttin’ With Some Barbecue [Louis Armstrong]

28 Asaw Fofor [Melody Aces]

29 African Battle Manu Dibango]

30 How Deep Is the Ocean [John Coltrane]


Christmas Hymns for Syria: Fairuz

Syrian refugee children make a snowman in Turkey.

Syrian refugee children make a snowman in Turkey.

Christmas has snuck up on me this year. I’ve not had much time to look at the calendar in the last few months and suddenly everyone is off for their holidays to Burma, Bali, Denmark and USA.  I, alas, remain behind here in KL. And the family, double alas, in Melbourne.


To ring in the season we share a Christmas album from the one and only Fairuz. A couple of traditional seasonal songs mixed in with Arabic and presumably French carol tunes. Nothing too adventurous or audacious. But as always Fairuz sings with a lightness and as appropriate to my take on the season, low key and relaxing.


Given the horrific times in her native Lebanon and neighboring Syria, where children, families and old folks are struggling to survive in the snow, seemingly ignored a world content to let their country cannablise itself, these soft songs take on healing properties.


If you would like to make a donation to the people of Syria, here are a couple of links that can provide you with more information and a link to donate.  AS always, WD gets 0% of any donations.




To donate:

Christmas Hymns

Track Listing:

01 Carillons

02 Sawt El Eid (Silent Night)

03 Laylet Eid (Jingle Bells)

04 Talj Talj

05 Najmet Eid (Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes)

06 Ya Mariyam El Bekr

07 Soubhan El Kalima

08 Arsalallah

09 Ya Oum Allah

10 Carillons



Montreal Lebanese: Nick Ayoub


Around the beginning of the 20th century a family of Lebanese immigrants landed in Montreal, Quebec, in search of that eternally hoped-for ‘better life’.  The Ayoubs, like many immigrants from the Levant settled in French-Canada, because of their familiarity with the French language and culture.  Any advantage this gave them was probably undone by the seriously hellish weather, but the Ayoubs settled into the small but growing Arab immigrant community around Montreal.


In 1926 the family welcomed a son, Nicholas, into the family.  Raised in Montreal he took up in turn clarinet, tenor saxophone, oboe, english horn, and flute, and studied with Arthur Romano at the Conservatoire-de-Musique-du-Quebec, one of those strange institutions from a bygone era, that developed professional musicians for free!  Studies in oboe followed with Harold Gomberg of the New York Philharmonic.


Ayoub began his professional career in 1943, soon playing tenor saxophone in the dance or jazz bands of JOHNNY HOLMES, MAYNARD FERGUSON, the saxophonist Freddie Nichols, and the trombonist Jiro ‘Butch’ Watanabe. Though a leading studio musician in Montreal by the early 1950s, and occasionally an oboist (and less frequently a saxophonist) with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, he remained active in jazz. An Ayoub quintet performed at the 1963 Montreal Jazz Festival and other Ayoub bands (usually with trumpeter Alan Penfold and pianist Art Roberts) appeared in Montreal clubs, in concert and on various Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio jazz programs through the 1970s. His jazz work was more sporadic thereafter – eg, at the 1988 FIJM with Skip Bey (bass) and NELSON SYMONDS (guitar).


AyoubAyoub (left with Sax) began teaching saxophone and directing the jazz ensemble at the CMM in 1968; he also taught 1974-8 at the JMC Orford Art Centre.  He passed away in 1982.

During the height of the Great Depression, jazz was considered a little avant garde, a little dangerous and was flourishing in Montreal.

Nights in Montreal were a sinful pleasure for those with money to spend. Rich Montrealers came in to the jazz clubs with their girlfriends and gave the band $50 dollars to keep playing after the bar had emptied and closed.

The city had a booming red light district with jazz hotspots like the Hollywood Club and the Terminal Club with its bare floors and pot-bellied stove.

Myron Sutton was an alto sax player and came to Montreal from Niagara Falls to be at the centre of the action.

“The Terminal Club was the kind of place where anything could happen. I saw Johnny Hodges come in there and blow his horn. I saw that puff-jaws Dizzy Gillespie come in there. Duke Ellington came in and sat behind the bar. Anybody’s liable to come in there. It was just a joint, but it was a well-known joint.”

Black Americans developed jazz at the turn of the century. The improvised music combined elements of ragtime, blues, spirituals, and band music. By the 1920s, jazz had migrated across the border and during the 1930s, Montreal attracted some of the jazz greats. While most North American clubs were segregated, black musicians found greater integration in Montreal clubs and other incentives to come to the city.

“You have to give the French Canadian white woman all the credit in the world,” one black musician said, “because she was the nicest woman to all the black musicians. If it wasn’t for the French Canadian women, all the black musicians who came from anywhere, and stayed, would have starved to death.”

The 1930s saw the start of the Swing-era, a big band form of jazz. Alto sax player Myron Sutton had a swing band called the Canadian Ambassadors, the first organized black jazz band in the country. They played Connie’s Inn on St. Catherine Street in Montreal for nine months in 1933 and wore custom-tailored suits.

“Our band was strictly a swing band,” Sutton said. “And we just swung, that’s all.”

As jazz thrived in Montreal during the 1930s, a local boy honed his musical skills in quieter venues around the city. Oscar Peterson performed publicly in the family band at churches and community halls. By the end of the decade a teenage Peterson had his own radio show in Montreal and was primed to dominate the city jazz scene in the decade to come.

The jazz pianist and composer subsequently became one of Canada’s most famous musicians.

Montreal’s jazz legacy continues today. Each summer the city hosts the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Established in 1980, the festival is now one of the premier jazz events in the world. It attracts up to 400,000 people a year. (


Nick Ayoub recorded a number of albums as a band leader and tonight we share one from 1977, The Music of Nick Ayoub, on which he playes flugelhorn, english horn, soprano saxophone and tenor saxophone! Excellent, straight-ahead jazz. No Middle Eastern adornments or references accompany the music which opens the window on another corner of the wide-worldwide-universe-of-jazz!

The Music Of Nick Ayoub

Track Listing:

01 Spanish Walk

02 Desert Boots

03 Kittens

04 Put It Out

05 Jazz Concertino Peridot

06 Jazz Concertino Turquoise

07 Jazz Concertino Opale

08 Jazz Concertino Saphir

09 Little Joey


Dromedary of Unusual Hue: Rabih Abou Khalil

A camel of Blue

A camel of Blue

My colleague, political advisor, sports-baiter and friend, Phillip Walker introduced me to the music of Rabih Abou-Khalil, the Lebanese master oud player who is also an accomplished composer and arranger of jazz music. And a bringer together of equally talented musicians from all around the world to make music.

Born and raised in the cosmopolitan climate of Beirut in the sixties and seventies,Rabih Abou-Khalil leaned to play the oud, the Arabian short-necked lute, at the age of four. In the Arab world this instrument is as popular as the guitar or the piano in the West and is the composer’s instrument par excellence. The Lebanese civil war forced hirn to leave his country in 1978 to study dassical flute in the German city of Munich, where he was tutored at the Munich Academy of Music by Walther Theurer. The analytical preoccupation with the European classical tradition enabled him to grasp Arabic music from a further, theoretical position, opening his eyes to the possibility of operating simultaneously within musically divergent systems. Whereas Arab instrumentalists were content to imitate human voice techniques, Abou-Khalil set out to explore new ways of playing his instrument. Music critics have even recommended his accomplished technique as a “study for jazz guitarists”; his ballads, on the other hand, rekindle memories of the poetic dawn of Arabian culture, without ever sounding even remotely traditionalistic.

Rabih Abou-Khalil has asserted himself in the avant-garde as a composer as well as an instrumentalist. This is not just because he is ahead of his time – but because he also questions what others might pursue without further reflection. With his original composing technique, his unconstrained, yet daring approach to dassical Arabic music, he has found a musical language entirely his own. Commissioned by the Südwesrfunk (Southwest German Radio), Abou-Khalil wrote two unusual compositions for string quartet in his own rhythmically and melodically charged style. The maiden performance with the Kronos String Quartet was the highlight at the Stuttgart Jazz Summit in 1992. On his CD, “Arabian Waltz”, with the Balanescu String Quartet he successfully integrated the string quartet – for centuries the domain of European classical music – into his musical language.

What superficially appears to be a chance encounter between opposing instruments and a seemingly antagonistic dash of talents from different musical worlds is in fact the result of a well pondered upon concept. Under Abou-Khalil’s guidance these undeniable differences by no means descend into Babylonian confusion. On the contrary, the cosmopolizan musicians from different cultural backgrounds draw inspiration from their shared intuitive understanding of the serious challenge they face in interpreting Abou-Khalil’s music. The intellectual and emotional identification with these compositions unleashes charges of enthusiasm in each of the players, inciting new heights of musical mastery. Yet the temptation of individual one-upmanship is never as strong as the collective innovative endeavor and exploration into uncharted terrain. The highly varied works by Abou-Khalil – all nonetheless derived from this very elixir – now stand in their own right, extending so far beyond convention that they somehow elude all fixed categories. Abou-Khalil’s music thrives on creative encounters and not on exoticism. From a combination of diverse cultural elements something very personal and coherent emerges. Thus it would be fruitless ro mull over descriptions such as Orient or Occident, jazz, world music or classical.

Rabih Abou Khalil

Rabih Abou Khalil

Commissioned by the BBC Concert Orchestra to write music for orchestra, Abou-Khalil wrote works that were performed in London and Chichester. For another project for the German city of Duisburg he chose ro collaborate wim the Ensemble Modern, one of the most renowned orchestras specializing in contemporary music. “While working with Rabih Abou-Khalil, I was starkly reminded of a saying by Herbert von Karajan: ‘Do not pIay the bar along with the music, play across the measure’.” That was how Dietmar Wiesner, the flute player of the Ensemble Modem, summed up his impressions from the rehearsals: “Unbelievably fine, irregular rhythms, masterfully formed into melodic chains that remain in a floating condition, never setting to land, and thus reaching a high level of charm that relentlessly pulls the listener imo its magic.” (

Blue Camel is the pinnacle to date of Lebanese oud player Rabih Abou-Khalil‘s achievement as a jazzman. In both mood and scope, it can almost be characterized as a new Kind of Blue. Both tense and reflective, it is perfect for listening after midnight. Abou-Khalil brings back Charlie Mariano on alto sax and Kenny Wheeler on flügelhorn and trumpet, and they generally alternate solos with Abou-Khalilhimself. Rounding out the roster is Steve Swallow on bass, Milton Cardona on congos, Nabil Khaiat on frame drums, and Ramesh Shotham on South Indian drums and percussion. They form a tight ensemble and play comfortably with each other. The album opens with “Sahara,” which contains both one of Abou-Khalil‘s tunes, a mesmerizing melody that could be either Arabic or jazz, and one of Abou-Khalil‘s best solos, a well-defined interlude that delightfully features the unique timbre of the oud. “Tsarka” begins with a fast break on the oud that turns out to be one of the two motifs on which everything is built. After it is elaborated for a few bars, the oud comes back with another building block. Then we get some stunning improvisations, especially from Abou-Khalil. “Ziriab” opens with a trumpet solo in which Kenny Wheeler tests the compass of his instrument, backed up with some atmospheric sounds from the udu drum; then Abou-Khalil enters with another great tune for everyone to build on. The title track is nothing but fun. Seductive percussion ushers in Wheeler and Mariano playing in unison for a tune that is somewhere between Duke Ellington and the court of Baghdad. As the percussion bubbles along, Milton Cardona‘s congos adding a Latin flavor to the proceedings, Abou-Khalil steps up with a very fast and rhythmic, if not very tuneful, solo. Midway through the track, Mariano blisters the paint with a screeching sax workout that bridges the Arabic and the Latin, while remaining all the while pure jazz. Even Steve Swallow gets a chance to feature his bass after which the ensemble brings it together and takes it home. Some of the other tracks are not as good as the ones mentioned above, but they are all listenable and very atmospheric. The aptly named “A Night in the Mountains” is a slow, thoughtful walk, perfect for silent contemplation. The album ends with “Beirut,” named for the Lebanese city torn by civil war from which Abou-Khalil had to flee many years ago. The track begins with a quiet oud solo and then builds to something more chaotic and striving. Blue Camel may not be a perfect album, but it demonstrates better than any other that a fusion between jazz and a musical form from another culture is possible and can work to the advantage of both. Plus, it’s just great listening.  (AMG)

Blue Camel

Track Listing:

01. Sahara

02. Tsarka

03. Ziriab

04. Blue Camel

05. On Time

06. A Night in the Mountains

07. Rabou Abou Kabou

08. Beirut