Listen to "Sallami" Get it all here. After a bike ride this afternoon from Astoria to Woodside and back, I switched on the news, not having seen it in a couple of days. The footage was sobering, to say the least. Miles and miles of destroyed beaches, property, downed trees, flooding--and image after image of someone surveying their former house or neighborhood and sobbing. The destruction and cost, including loss of life, of Hurricane Sandy is enormous and really almost unimaginable. But then I got to thinking. This is the sort of destruction, on a much grander scale, that this country inflicted on Iraq from 2003 through the end of last year. In fact, the cost of that invasion and occupation, in terms of dollars and, especially, in terms of human life and property, utterly dwarfs what we're living through and/or watching on the news right now. Kazem al Saher, born in Mosul, Iraq, in the late 1950s, is one of the greatest composers in Arabic music history, even if not everything he does will appeal to everyone. Not just because his work embodies the idea of art in the era of globalization, but because so much of what he does is both innovative and devastatingly expressive. Take, for example, the sample track above. Currently living in Cairo, Egypt, al Saher left Iraq for Jordan in 1991 during the first Gulf War. From there he moved to Lebanon before finally settling in the City of a Thousand Minarets. Released in 1997, Fi Madrasat al Hob ("In the School of Love") was his 10th album. (Read more about al Saher and get his 9th album here.)
Soon after I moved to New York City in 1997 I began to notice that bodegas run by people from around the world sometimes stocked CDs and DVDs of music and film from the countries they had come from.
The music I've collected from these bodegas can almost never be found in the "World Music" sections of the few remaining places to buy CDs in the U.S.; nor, for that matter on iTunes (or cheapo MP3 sites like Soundike).
If you are an artist or publisher and do not want your music here, just let me know and I'll remove it.