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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Review - In A Beirut Mood: Pure Delight of Oriental Dance

Artist: Jailah's Raks Sharki 6

Posted on Thu, Jun 12, 2003 at 4:00 AM

"Raks Sharki" would be the proper term for what most of us call "bellydancing." And, of course, like most things we dumb down for our own consumption, the mutation of a centuries-old artform into an old-lady exercise regimen typically misses the point. American-born Jailah has thankfully not missed the point. Though of Mexican/German descent, the well-traveled dancer has made Raks Sharki her mission in life, thirstily studying the form abroad and absorbing her lessons so well she's been able to personalize the form into a recognizable style. This disc is the sixth musical endeavor she's overseen and, like the previous ones, is a blissful homage to the evocative form she practices. Employing 18 musicians and vocalists, the tone is more studied and less raucous than many of the knock-off bellydancing CDs found at Target kiosks, and is richly evocative of its Middle Eastern roots without being clich?d. Tracks like "Kanoun Mood" largely abandon the relentless rhythm associated with the genre in favor of a more delicate and stylized mood. Of course, there are numbers like the upbeat and epic "Tales of the Sahara," but they are just part of a much bigger picture. Just like Raks Sharki.

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