Kemani Cemal

Sulukule Turkish Belly Dance

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An album of what is commonly known basically as "belly dance" music in the West, this is a collection of songs of the Rom peoples of Istanbul; more specifically in the Sulukule district where they have been historically collected together. Sulukule: Rom Music of Istanbul features the flying violin work of Kemanî Cemal Çinarli, at the ripe old age of 70 at the time of the recording. Beyond his work, the vocals of the trio of singers work well, imparting a sense of the minor scales into the music where needed, and powering through with a show of force in more upbeat bits as well. The qanun playing of Ismail Sencal is also outstanding, with his speed on the hammered instrument nearing glissandos throughout the album. The real treat for listeners here though isn't each of the virtuoso players singly, but the combination of all players and singers to create a stunning ensemble. For basic Rom music, there are a million albums available; but for this subgenre, there are rather less to choose from. As such, it's a relatively valuable album for the ethnomusicological aspects of the music, and a generally enjoyable album moreover. Pick it up as a curious newcomer or a knowledgeable fan.

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