Hüseyin & Günay Türkmenler

Turkish Bellydance: Desert Night Dance

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Perhaps it does not much matter, but belly dancing is ultimately of Turkish (Ottoman) origin. Maybe that's what gives this disc a higher degree of authenticity than most belly dance albums. Alternatively, the cause may be that Huseyin Turkmenler uses the synthesizer more sparingly than, say, Hossam Ramzy. Turkmenler instead relies on the saz (a long-neck lute that he plays himself), a violin, a kanun (Middle Eastern zither), and drums. This ensemble allows Turkmenler to create texture while having three possible lead instruments at his disposal. The synthesizer largely seems to imitate the clarinet and the saxophone. Most of the tracks are fast, some very fast. One really good midtempo number is "Nihavent Oyun Havasi," which makes very stately use of the kanun. The saz, which has a lower, more buzzing sound than the Arabic lute, is used to advantage on several songs, especially "Seker Oglan," which starts with a long solo and continues with saz and percussion throughout. A lot of belly dance albums are cheesy and descend into self-parody. This one is worth listening to on its own terms. And, yes, you could dance to it.

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