A great combination of two groovy Eastern-styled albums from the 60s! First up is Oud Artistry – groovy Eastern sounds from John Berberian – a musician we know from more rockish projects, but who steps out here on a relatively traditional set of tunes! As you'd guess from the title, Berberian's instrument is the oud – that weird stringed instrument we probably know best from Ahmed Abdul-Malik's jazz experiments of the early 60s, used here by John in styles that are much more in keeping with its Middle Eastern roots. The rhythms draw from Turkish, Armenian, and Arabic inspiration – and other instruments on the record include finger cymbals, clarinet, bongos, guitar, and assorted percussion. Most number features vocals sung in a haunting sort of tone – and tunes include "Rast Taksim", "Yarus", "Sevasda", "Savgulum", "Sevan 5/
4", and "Azziza". Next is Expressions East – rhythmic early 60s global grooves from John Berberian – a master of the oud with a great group of players on these oft intense takes traditional Turkish, Armenian and Arabic songs! The melodies and rhythms are pretty impressive – the percussion is particularly heavy and groovy! The oud is out front and supported by lots of clarinet and bongo, hand percussion, guitar, bass and some vocals, too! There's a passion here that easily trumps any initial thoughts
that this would be a dry reading of middle-eastern folk material – it's appealing in many of the ways that Salah Ragab's Egyptian jazz material is, without the cosmic funkiness. Players include Souren Baronian on clarinet and bongos, Jack Chalikian on canun, John Valentine on guitar and dudoog, among others. Tracks include "Siseler", "Laz", "Basha Bella", "Whyek", "Taksim", and "Nubar Nubar".