Born in 1964 in Halba, a small town in the Lebanon, Mahmoud Turkmani got in touch with musical practice at an early age. During the Civil War he left the Lebanon to study classical guitar and composition in Moscow (1984 - 1989). Shortly afterwards he moved to Switzerland where he concentrated on teaching and playing concerts while getting further training, e.g. in flamenco guitar. In the mid-90s he felt the inner urge to express himself in his own music. In the beginning Turkmani used the guitar only (as a solo instrument and with his guitar quartet) but from 1998 also pieces for oud, the Arabic lute, followed. The oud, the "queen of the Arabic instruments", led Turkmani to basic questions of his own musical identity. He has grown up in two divergent musical systems, the oriental and the occidental. His deepened knowledge in both systems made it possible for him to check touchpoints between them without using superficial fusion techniques. Can the Maqamat world of sound with its richness of modi be combined with the western tone system? How can complex Arab rhythms constitute a work of new music without getting stuck in shallow "Arabisms"?
Turkmani's new CD "Fayka" is a fascinating document of his present way of writing - a unique mixture of phenomenal instrumental technique and advanced compositional structures. It comprises eight works from the years 1999 to 2001: two solo pieces (for guitar respectively oud) as well as six duets. Although of very diverse origins, his duet partners share highest artistic quality and a wide musical openness. Turkmani wrote three of the duets for himself and Persian percussion player Keyvan Chemirani. A son of master drummer Djamchid Chemirani, Keyvan plays the tub-formed tombak (in Arab: zarb) and the big frame drum dāf. In the other duet tracks Turkmani combines his instruments with the double bass. For these tunes, he says, he was looking for a musician who is not only a virtuoso master of his instrument but also adds his own personality and creativity to the music. He found his ideal partner in Barry Guy, doubtlessly one of the most innovative European bassists and composers who is an active force in new chamber and orchestra music as well as improvised music and jazz and the founder of the phenomenal London Jazz Composers Orchestra. Radiating dazzling beauty and intensity, Turkmani's music sometimes rises to heavy rhythmic drive and violent outbursts in which the guitar or oud serves as a percussion instrument.
Also recommended: Mahmoud Turkmani - "Nuqta" (TIP-888 835 2)
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