"Leila Haddad presents, The Music of Mohamed Sultan", Ya Leila", Volume Two.
Reviewer: Najia El-Mouzayen
If you loved "Egypte Muhammad Sultan, Ahla Leila ALCD 149 produced in France by MPO, you will also love Leila's new offering. Leila is a Tunisian dancer who has located her dance studio in Paris (in case you travel to Paris you would do well to look her up for a drop-in lesson or possibly a private lesson). Leila has one of the most energetic and joyful Tunisian dance styles I have ever seen. As a person, this dancer is intellectual, beautiful, soft-spoken and dedicated to dance. She is slight in build, and delicate in her executions of dance movement.
Had I been aware that I would be called upon to review "Ya Leila", I would have spoken to her about it when I sat at the pre-Rakkasah dinner table with her and her husband Birame Pathe N`Diaye (who produced the latest offering, according to the tape insert). As it is, I am left somewhat puzzled by the musical selections and arrangements.
Included in this recording are:
1. Angham el Layali (Music of the Nights)
2. Khalikou Shehedin (Be A Witness--made famous by Warda)
3. Ahla Tariq Fi Duniati (Fellow Travelers or People of the Same Beliefs)
4. Ya Leila (Oh! Leila)
5. Gharib Ya Zamen (Stranger to What's Happening)
6. Zikrayati (My Memories)
7. Ouard El Nil (Nile Garden)
8. Ahlam (I Dream)
9. Harratna (My Neighborhood)
10. Ala Udi (From the Oud)
11. Halawat Massar (Egyptian Beauties)
The arrangements are beautifully recorded and as delicate in nature as Leila Haddad's Raks Sharqui. Unfortunately for most current-day American and European dance artists, I believe that the presentations are not nearly boisterous enough, and the changes in rhythms and tempo are far too subtle to be of great use to most of us in a performance setting. The choices befit a dancer of the stature of Leila Haddad, but I believe that they would be less than evocative for most others.
The last few cuts on the recording are gorgeous, short taquasims as follows: kanoon, nai, accordion, violin, oud, and finally the tabla. It is possible that the recording allows one to construct a "show routine" by choosing titles and inserting various taquasims as one prefers--a very nice option. It does not contain therefore, the usual subtle and somewhat lengthy musical transitions (often an integral part of show routines). Lacking, totally, is any sort of usable and thrilling grand finale.
Muhammad Sultan has a fair amount of credentials behind his compositions, having become known as a composer of film scores and it is said that he has taken credit for the discovery of new talent such as Amani, and the singer Hani Chaker. His musical arrangements are reputed to have been used by Mona Said, Nagua Fouad and Dina.
The instrumentals may be useful in dance lessons and in practice sessions as they are steady and rather slow in beat as compared to the wider range of tempos presented in most Egyptian (and other Arabic) dance music. The cuts do not seem to lend themselves well to the choreographed styling of most western dancers as they are repetitive and one is easily "lost" in the "count". If the dancer is a true artist of the Oriental Dance, this feature will be less daunting and the instantaneous choreographic style of dance can easily adapt.
All in all, if you liked volume one, volume two will be on your "must-have" list.
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