Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Master Marcel Khalifé's Ensemble Mixes Tradition, Innovation

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Master Marcel Khalifé's Ensemble Mixes Tradition, Innovation

Article excerpt

WITH EIGHT PERFORMANCES remaining in a 23-city U.S. tour, Marcel Khalifé and the Mayadine Ensemble played a command performance Nov. 1 at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater in Washington, DC. The concert was presented by the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development and Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, sponsored by Saudi Aramco, and supported by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Network of Arab American Professionals.

In their first piece Marcel and accomplished upright bassist Peter Herbert played a selection from their new instrumental album, "Taqasim." The duet for oud and bass mixed avant garde improvisational jazz progressions and traditional rhythms. Herbert seamlessly mixed bow work and plucking to provide rhythm and percussion, and at times strumming, almost playing the bass as if it were an oud. Accompanied on tambourine and tabla by Mayedine percussionist and Marcel's younger son, Bachar, the music reached energetic and powerful crescendos that evoked joy, hope, determination, strength and confidence.

Marcel's older son and piano prodigy, Rami, joined the ensemble on "Camaleer," which Marcel dedicated (in Arabic) "to the people of South Lebanon and all that happened to them, with the assistance of the U.S. which contributed to their destruction.

"Because the White House is so close," Marcel added, "I hope they can hear me."

Rami and Herbert's improvisation provided emotional bridges between the rhythmic mastery of Khalifé's well-known classics, building them up from dissonance and breaking them again in a style bordering on performance art. …

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