The oud has over the years come to be one of my favourite instruments. I discovered it first through the music of Anouar Brahem and of Dhaffer Youssef, both North African, both jazz musicians, though very different in their approach. And through them I came to discover a whole new world of music, one that can be both joyous and sublimely beautiful.
The oud is a fretless, pear-shaped, lute-like instrument whose origins go back several thousand years. (There is a beautiful website called Oudmigrations, created by Rachel Beckles Willson, professor of music at London University’s Royal Holloway College, that tells both of the history of the oud and of it migrations to various parts of the world.) It has come to be central to the music of North Africa, and the Arab world as well as Iran and Turkey, and many contemporary oud players have developed and enlarged what oud music can mean. It lends itself particularly beautifully to jazz. So here are a few of my favourite contemporary oud players.
Driss El Maloumi, Imtidad
Anouar Brahem, Raf Raf
Dhafer Youssef, Satyagraha
Naseer Shamma Baghdad Nights
Hussein Mohamed Aly, El Andalus
Munir Bashir, L’art du’ûd
Said Chraibi, Improvisation autour de soleimane
Tarek Abdallah & Adel Shams El-Din,
Ni Sama’I Ni Qadim
Rihab Azar, Badat Min al-Khidr