LAMAJAMAL'S 2011 RELEASE
"TSIKAGO"

Tsikago is Lamajamal’s danceable take on traditional Balkan and Middle Eastern music, fused with modern sensibilities into a musical tribute to the ethnic diversity of their hometown of Chicago.

Tsikago blends a variety of exotic instruments like, oud (Middle Eastern lute), santouri (hammered dulcimer), darbuka (hand drum) and tanbur (long-necked banjo), with the more familiar sounds of electric guitar, upright bass, horns and vocals. All of these colors come together on a canvass of drums, percussion and luscious production.

The original songs on the album reflect the diversity of the group’s influences. “Charga Charga” and “Reehat el Reehan” tip their hats to the film music of Cairo, Athens and Mumbai, while “Schtunk” has a Romanian and Klezmer flavor. “Jasmin tea” is reminiscent of Turkish Sufi music, and “Ukrainian Tango” starts out Eastern-tinged tango and ends up Gypsy-tinged salsa. “Augusta Horo”, inspired by the music of 19th century Turkish taverns, is an ode to both a street in Chicago and a street in Istanbul.

The traditional music on the album gets the same contemporary treatment as the originals. “Gypsy 78,” “Gaida,” “Naradno Horo,” and “Nazdrave Medley” are Balkan dance songs that feature clarinet, sax, and trumpet, and get a heavy dose of studio experimentation. “Sidi Habibi” is a Moroccan standard reworked by Lamajamal featuring Arabic vocals and oud in the intro, before bursting into a North African dance jam with an exotic drum set, electric guitar and saxophone. “Raqs Lamajamal” is an upbeat, drum-centric folk dance from the Levantine region and “Alexandris/Xenitemeno mou Pouli” is a medley of two Greek folk songs featuring guest vocals and the beautiful sound of the santouri. Two improvisations, or taxims, are on the album, one on oud, one on tanbur. These two tracks showcase the subtleties of the traditions and instruments in Lamajamal’s music.

 

Lets Go Gypsy Surf
Compilation of Lamajamal's music from 2004 to 2010

This album includes previously unreleased material by Lamajamal (see Jove Male Mome below), as well as songs from their upcoming album of Kashmiri folk music "Saazuk Safar" (see Rum Gaeyam Sheeshas below).

 






Saazuk Safar
A Musical Journey to the Valley of Kashmir

We are also proud to present an album of stylized Kashmiri folk music entitled ‘Saazuk Safar’. This album is the result of collaboration with Funkar International, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the folk art, music, and language of the Valley of Kashmir.

Saazuk Safar



Gypsy Surf
2007

Lamajamal's 2007 album "Gypsy Surf" takes you on a journey from the Black sea to the Nile. The album combines the sound of traditional Balkan and Middle-Eastern music with surf guitar and drumset.

Gypsy Surf

 






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Thank you to Zekeriyah for this review!

Being from Chicago, I'm quite familiar with Lamajamal. They are a local band that often winds up performing at various Middle Eastern festival and events, so I've seen them a number of times, and can say for a fact that this recording really captures the essence of their act. Drawing upon the music of Turkey, the Arab world, the Balkans and even further afield, Lamajamal play an eclectic mix of modern and traditional that really defies categorization. With multi-lingual vocals, strong percussion, Klezmer-styled clarinet, the 'oud and even cumbus, Lamajamal is as diverse as they are fun to see live.

.... They do everything from Greek rembetika (on 'Aidhenikos Horos') to covers of classical Arabic music by Fairuz and Muhammad Abdel Wahhab ('Nasam Alayna el Hawa' and 'Balad el Mahbub,' respectively). But the best highlight is on 'Cocek 80,' a vibrant Macedonian folk dance that'll REALLY get you going. The name 'Gypsy Surf' is appropriate, not only because of the far-flung influences here, but also because this isn't really 'traditional' music in the strictest sense, but rather creative re-interpretations done by artists who REALLY understand the cultures and what they are doing with them. The result is incredibly awesome. My girlfriend (herself of Hungarian Gypsy extraction, incidentally) got hooked on 'world' music through this band, so I really recommend checking them out, especially if you've never heard Arabic/Middle Eastern music before. Lamajamal is one of the most creative, interesting and multi-talented bands of our time, and we are lucky to have them here in Chicago.


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