The oud, or Arabic lute, is so integral to Arabic culture that it was used by ancient musicians and philosophers to define scales and served as a foundation for Arab music as a whole. Hence, it's no coincidence that Marcel Khalife achieved folk hero status playing this emblem of Arabic culture. So inspiring was his music that when Israel invaded his native Lebanon in 1982, Israeli officials confiscated his cassettes, lest he inspire a resurgence of Arabic pride. Peace, reconciliation, and boundary-breaking are the hallmarks of Marcel Khalife's music. Born into a Christian family in an Arabic culture, he uses musical influences from both traditions to create a sound that is both soothing and stimulating. An entrancing nine-track CD,Caress reflects Khalife's multifaceted musicianship as well as his ability to connect diverse musical influences. Weaving traditional instruments such as the oud, tabla, riq, and mazhar with Western mainstays of the piano, bass, and violin, he blurs genres for a universal sound. While his virtuoso oud playing shines on the title track, "With All My Love" features a quirky piano interpretation of "Happy Birthday," and "Chaza" showcases a stunning violin solo by Omar Guey. Caress showcases an elegant musical marriage of Arabic, classical, and jazz influences for a complex yet accessible sound.
AllMusic Review by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates