Country of Origin


Lunar Landing

For a safe touchdown—shorthand for knowing my tastes in music with 52 well-loved albums on hand—the following list has your feet grounded, your ears smiling and your radar on the straight and narrow. On this music menu, ‘v’ isn’t for vegetarian but vocals, ‘i’ for instrumentals. Wherever ‘+’ combines both, the first letter represents the main focus. As a classically trained clarinet player, you’ll appreciate why this list includes many ‘i’. Loving them is in my DNA. Likewise for favouring vocals I can’t understand so neither in English nor German. I prefer to hear voices like instruments so I can bypass distracting lyrics. Heartbreak, sadness, anger, depression, jealousy and all manner of emotions are part of our human condition and real enough. I just prefer not having the emotional baggage of total strangers invade my psychic space when I relax into my music. It’s an unconventional preference for sure but how I’m wired. It's why I happily listen to lyrics in French, Greek, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Middle-Eastern or Asian tongues. You could easily make the argument that I’m shorting myself of an entire dimension of meaning. I’d argue that bypassing trite and mundane concerns expressed in words opens me up to deeper musical layers beyond the mind. Again, it’s just a personal quirk reflected in this list for which you now have the explanation. Once an instrumentalist, always an instrumentalist.

1 Abed Azrié – Suerte – v
2 Alondra de La Perra – Olé México GNP – v
3 Amr Diab – Mn Asmaa Allah Al Hosna – v
4 Angelo Debarre & Marius Apostol – Gipsy Unity – i
5 Anna Maria Jopek & Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Minione – v
6 Antonio Rey – Flamenco Sin Fronteras – i
7 Andy Narell – Dis 1.4. RAF – i

8 Aytac Dogan – Deva – i
9 Barrio Chino – Méditerra Nostra – v
10 Blend Mishkin – The Lost Continent – i
11 Bratsch –Rien dans les Poches – v + i
12 Café Noir – Waltz King – i + v
13 Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – v + i
14 Dulce Pontes – Lagrimas – v

15 G.E.N.E. – Katchina – i
16 George Dalaras – I Kaseta Tou Melodia – v
17 Göksun Çavdar – Livaneli Sarkilari – i
18 Hakki Brothers & Göksel Baktagir – Live Session – i
19 Hasan Isakkut – Journey – i
20 Hector Zazou & Swara – In the House of Mirrors – i
21 Hughes de Courson – Mozart l’Égyptien – i

22 Hüsnü Senlendiriçi ve Trio Chios – Ege’nin Iki Yani – v + i
23 Indialucía – Acatao – i + v
24 Jasdeep Singh Degun – Anomaly – i
25 Jan Garbarek – In Praise of Dreams – i
26 Joachim Horsley – Caribbean Nocturnes – i
27 Jordi Bonell – Agua Madre – i + v
28 Juan Carmonia – Zyriab 6.7 – i + v

29 Karolina Goceva – Peszisa Ljubov i Kopnez  – v
30 Mahsa Vahdat – Enlighten the Night – v
31 Martin Fröst – Vivaldi – i
32 Matthieu Saglio – Voices – i + v
33 Mayte Martín – Tempo Rubato – v
34 Meral Azizoglu – Gül Istanbul – v
35 Mercan Dede – Dünya 1 – i

36 Michael Shrieve & Klaus Schulze – Transfer Station Blue – i
37 No Border Orchestra – Artic Cinema – i
38 Oceanvs Orientalis – Akustikhane Across – i
39 Patrick Chartol – Istanbul – i
40 Quadro Nuevo & Cairo Steps – Flying Carpet – i + v
41 Redi Hasa – The stolen Cello – i
42 Roby Lakatos – La Passion – i

43 Sirba Octet: Sirba Orchestra – Russian, Klezmer & Gipsy Music – i
44 Taksim Trio – Ahi – i
45 Tanja Tzarovska – No Record of Wrong – v
46 The Ayoub Sisters – Arabesque – i
47 The Khoury Project – Revelation – i
48 The Transatlantic Guitar Trio – i
49 Tord Gustavsen Trio – The Other Side – i

50 Vicente Amigo – Vivencias Imaginadas – i + v
51 Wael Jassar – Fi Hadret Al Mahboob Vol 1 & 2 – v
52 Yannis Parios – Parea me ton Hari – v

For more insight into my musical wiring as a function of upbringing, training, travels and exposure, I adore stylistic crossovers. In this list they include clashes between Flamenco and Carnathic, Indian and Western, Turkish and Transylvanian, Latin and Classical, African and Flamenco and Mozart in the Middle East. I also love Gipsy music, be it from the Balkans or Turkey, be they the Jazz Manouche descendants of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli from Romane and Joscho Stephan to Florin Niculescu and Marius Apostol; or come from the Gipsy origins of the Indian sub continent including the Bauls and qawwali. My ultimate gipsy formation was Bratsch whose current offshoot is the Dan Gharibian Trio.

Living in Cyprus exposed me to Greek laiki music for which I've developed a sunny vacation taste. I fancy Sufi music to which Omar Faruk Tekbilek was my first introduction which since has found many others. Favourite singers are Alcione for Brazil, Miguel Poveda and Concha Buika for Spain, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for Pakistan, Sezen Aksu and Eda Karaytug for Turkey. I love organic electronica where Mercan Dede is my tip of the spear whilst Al Gromer Khan is my go-to choice for minimalist ambient. I enjoy Jacques Loussier's and Eugen Cicero's 'swing the classics' piano style to keep tabs on current genre inventors like Joachim Horsley. That fascination is back at crossovers that mine fully developed very sophisticated musical cultures which prior to the global village phenomenon existed mostly in isolation. Now the whole world is any curious artist's oyster. I find that some of the most interesting encounters arise when layered styles and thoroughly trained virtuoso join forces to enhance rather than dilute their disparate roots. Mutual respect, top skills and voracious artistic curiosity are the ingredients I chase. And on that score today's music scene is really stacked. One must just shop beyond the mainstream and also explore small boutique labels.

Against this background you'll understand the scarcity of Blues, Pop and Rock in my library. Again, my hurdle are the English lyrics. I've never gotten on with 'free' Jazz which I find too abstract and mental. I can't stand the screech of overdriven guitars. I enjoy big Russian choral works and some acapella but not opera or lieder. My favourite symphonic composer is Antonin Bruckner. Between technical bravura and improvisational fluidity, I'll always favour the latter. In my former blackwood milieu, a Hüsnü Senlendirici will thus always outplay a Martin Fröst, an Ismail Lumanovski or Ghassan Abu Haltam a Sabine Meyer or Andreas Ottensamer. There's a lot more to be said after collecting music for 30 years but any list must have a self-imposed limit or it serves no purpose. It's why after 52 albums today's list calls it quits. For purposes of relating to my reviews by what kind of music I tend to test with, it should definitely do, however. And then there's always tomorrow's list…