Blue Flame by Simon Shaheen and Qantara

Blue Flame, the 2002 album from Palestinian oud player, composer and arranger Simon Shaheen, is an all-instrumental studio set that finds Shaheen and his multicultural group playing in a wide variety of styles: jazz, pop, folk, even Western classical. That’s right, it’s a ‘muso bloke showing off all that he can do’ kind of a session, but it’s a bloody good one. There are some nice melodies here (Waving Sands is particularly catchy); the band range from classical Arabic nay / flute player Bassam Saba to New York jazzbo guitarist Adam Rogers, and the production is bright, high quality stuff that never gets too slick. Granted there probably is a bit too much thrown into the pot (the Western classical stuff doesn’t really convince), but this is a surprisingly accessible and satisfying release, as well as being a showcase for Shaheen’s undeniable talents as a musician. –Jamie Renton

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from FolkMusicSMB
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