El Tanbura ‘Between The Desert & The Sea'

[World Village 450002]
(available from HarmoniaMundi 02087099500)

Excellent release this one from this collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians formed in 1989 by leader Zakaria Ibrahim. They are from Port Said , lying at the gateway to the Suez Canal and their music is driven by an ancient harp (dating back to the times of the greatest Pharaohs) called the simsimiyya, which reached the city in the 1930s. Simsimiyya players were employed on Red Sea ships to charm the winds, which gives you an idea of the magic created within this music, the instrument was heavily featured in the music that evolved from the busy café scene up to the 70's. Yep, magic. Graham Radley