Brian Keane and Omar Faruk Tekbilek first combined forces on Keane’s soundtrack to Süleyman the Magnificent (13023), a film about the great Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The score, a stunning blend of exotic Turkish instruments and innovative orchestrations, created quite a stir when Celestial Harmonies released the music on a 1988 album by the same title. Although the American guitarist and Turkish multi–instrumentalist hail from very different worlds and backgrounds, they developed a close musical rapport that has since led to another cross–cultural collaboration. Fire Dance is a spirited blend of Middle Eastern and North African instruments, synthesizers, and guitars, supported by sophisticated arrangements and studio techniques. A natural progression from Süleyman the Magnificent (13023), the focus of this new album has been expanded beyond Turkey to include music from North Africa, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern and Arabic sources. For instance, Song of the Pharaohs combines Tekbilek’s haunting solos on the flute-like ney with windchime flourishes, distant horns, ethereal synthesizers, and the voices of strangers to create a mystical impression of the distant time of the ancient pharaohs. A Passage East is a showcase for both the Turkish musician’s impeccable percussion and Keane’s superb guitar chops. Halay is a joyous celebration of driving rhythms and uplifting melodies. Other selections feature the oud (similar to the lute), the zurna (similar to the oboe), and a colorful array of percussion instruments in artful alliance with the best ideas the West has to offer. Fire Dance is an adventure in musical transformation by two consummate musicians who bridge traditions with grace and innovation. the artist Omar Faruk Tekbilek began playing professionally at the age of twelve. Establishing himself as one of the top Turkish studio musicians in the 1960s, he later toured Europe and the United States as one of the world’s foremost performers of traditional Middle Eastern music. His appearances with jazz musicians Don Cherry and Karl Berger, and his work on numerous film and TV scores attest to his leadership status among contemporary Middle Eastern musicians. Brian Keane is a guitar virtuoso who has shared the stage with the likes of Larry Coryell, Bobby McFerrin, Paco de Lucia, Joe Pass, and others. An award–winning producer, composer, and orchestrator, he has scored more than forty films and produced over two dozen albums.
Brian Keane & Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Fire Dance
CD Review by P.J.Whyte
The sleeve tells me: “Fire Dance is a collaboration of two master musicians from very different worlds and backgrounds.
“Omar Faruk Tekbilek is one of the foremost Middle Eastern musicians in the world, born in Turkey.
“Brian Keane is a guitar virtuoso born in America.”
Track one, “Somewhere in the Sahara”, starts with just the sound of wind.
Then, all of a sudden, you hafta get your belly dancing outfit on again.
This album has the Middle East rhythms and instruments accompanied beautifully by Brian Keane.
There are some truly beautiful tracks on it.
I am now a huge fan of Celestial Harmonies productions.
Can I tell you that you are transported on beautiful journeys on their albums?
It is hard to imagine there could be purer recordings of more talented hand picked individuals.
In the folk tradition of being open to music in any pure form, I can see the delight and joy an album like this will bring to a curious folkie prepared to order this CD and set aside a quiet time to drink it all in.
P.S. That’s what I love about my musical genre and the people I meet in it!
In addition, it is my firm belief that you will learn from the technicality of the compositions, as I have.
These two gentlemen are virtuosos indeed.
I bet they had so much fun together producing this album and they have much to be proud of.
There are 14 tracks, all recorded in Connecticut in the USA.
The sounds of the Sahara resonate within all tracks.
Great percussive arrangement keeps your heart in sync.
As usual, the accompanying sleeve documentation is informative on an album such as this.
Please get familiar with Celestial Harmonies range of CD’s available from Trad&Now and choose the musical journey upon which you want to go.