Simon Shaheen – The Music Of Mohamed Abdel Wahab


الحنة = Al Hinna
ست الحبايب = Sittel Habayeb
هان الود = Hanil Widd
ابن النيل = Ibnil Balad
" مقطوعات التنويعات من "من غير ليه = Theme & Variations
البرتقال = Bortuqal
مضناك جفاه = Mudnaka
SKU: ZEHRA008 Categories: ,


Reissue of the oud / viola virtuoso SIMON SHAHEEN’s interpretations of pieces by one of
the Middle East`s most important 20th Century composers, MOHAMED ABDEL WAHAB.
Produced by BILL LASWELL, remastered for vinyl at D&M Berlin.

MOHAMED ABDEL WAHAB (1902-1991) was „a giant in the world of Middle Eastern
entertainment” (Al Jadid Magazine) – as singer, actor and composer – and is commonly considered
“the father of modern Egyptian song”. After a visit to Paris, he revolutionized the film industry by
introducing the genre “musical film” to the Arabic world, the movie “The White Rose” in which he
starred broke all records and to this day is frequently presented in Cairo’s cinemas. But in 1950,
WAHAB left the film industry to focus on singing and composing – he wrote over 1800 songs
(among others for Umm Kalthoum, an iconic artist in the Arabic music in her own right) that were
deeply rooted in classical Arabic music but also laid the foundation for a new era of Egyptian music
as WAHAB was open to Western elements such as waltz rhythms or even rock’n’roll in Abdel
Halim Hafez's song "Ya Albi Ya Khali". He also composed several national anthems (Tunisia,
Oman, Libya, United Arabic Emirates) and re-composed the Egyptian national anthem “Belady
Belady Belady”, based on the original by Sayed Darwish. WAHAB received several decorations of
Arabic states, and at his death in 1991, Egypt honored its famous son with a huge military funeral
at the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo, the six-horse carriage procession carrying his coffin was
actually led by the prime and foreign ministers, followed by the ministers of defense, interior and

SIMON SHAHEEN (born 1955) is the perfect choice for WAHAB’s compositions. Born into a family
of gifted musicians, he learned playing the oud at the age of 5 and the violin shortly thereafter. He
earned degrees in Arabic literature and music performance at the Tel Aviv University, and later
pursued further studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and after his emigration to the USA (in
1980) at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. SHAHEEN lives in New York
where he founded the Near Eastern Music Ensemble and Qantara, a formation that blends
traditional Arabic Music with elements of Jazz and classical music, and he also has been
organizing the Annual Arab Festival of Arts called Mahrajan al-Fan since 1994. The same year he
received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts at the White
House. Solo albums like Saltanah (Water Lily Acoustics), Turath (CMP) or Taqasim (Lyrichord)
underline his importance as one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and
composers of his generation. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music, while it
forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. SHAHEEN has
participated in many cross-cultural musical projects with artists as diverse as Henry Threadgill,
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, or the Jewish klezmer ensemble The Klezmatics, contributed to the
soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky and Malcolm X and composed the entire score for the United
Nations sponsored documentary, For Everyone Everywhere, celebrating the 50th anniversary of
the United Nations Human Rights Charter. SHAHEENS biggest success was the Qantara album
Blue Flame (2001) which has been nominated for eleven Grammy Awards.
Besides all his activities as performer, he dedicates a good part of his time to working with schools
and universities, including Julliard, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Yale, University
of California in San Diego, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and many others.
The Music Of Mohamed Abdel Wahab was originally released in 1990 on Axiom, the record label
curated by iconic producer and bass player Bill Laswell, and has been carefully remastered for this
vinyl reissue at D&M, Berlin.

Press quotes:
“Master oud player and composer Simon Shaheen finds the perfect mix on this collection of
Mohammed Abdel Wahab's pieces … seven wonderful interpretations sparkling with oud and
strings interplay.” Stephen Cook / Allmusic.com

“Shaheen`s violin soars over a slicing string section and a bed of percolating percussion, while
accordion, oud, finger cymbals and a chorus of singers weave in and out. Produced with sparkling
clarity by Bill Laswell … this record opens a new world of harmonic and melodic possibilities to
ears accustomed to Western pop.” Greg Kot / Chicago Tribune

Simon Shaheen: Oud, Violin, Viola
Najib Shaheen: Oud
Sheikh Taha: Accordion
Anton Hajjar: Ney
Paula Bing: Flute
Ramzi Bisharat: Tabla
Hanna Mirhige: Mizhar
Michael Baklouk: Daff
Bobby Farah: Sagat
Ibrahim Salman: Quanoun
Artemis Theodos, Gabriel Palka, Nessim Dakwar, Kamil Shajrawi: Violin
Mike Richmond: Double Bass
Michael Finkel, Vladimir Greenberg: Cello
Laura Shaheen, Louise Salman, Maurice Chedid, Nermine Rawi,
Simon Shaheen, Youssef Kassab: Chorus