“Some of the finest musicians from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the US have convened to play the real thing.”
“...Hagopian is rightly hailed as one of the best oud players on the planet. When the last note of this album sounds it will be his playing that lingers...”
Our best-selling album! Reminiscent of New York’s 8th Avenue club scene of the 1950s, where Gypsies, Armenians, Turks, Jews, Greeks and Arabs played music together, Gypsy Fire brings together some of today’s best-known Turkish, Armenian, and Gypsy musicians in sizzling performances of favorite bellydance tunes from years past. A must for dancers!
Recent live performances include the 2004 Heimatklange Festival in Berlin. Artists include Richard Hagopian, recipient of the National Heritage Award, America’s highest honor awarded in the traditional folk arts; Yuri Yunakov, a legendary Turkish-Rom sax player from Bulgaria; Omar Faruk Tekbilek, renowned for his soundtrack recording of Suleyman the Magnificent; Arto Tunçboyaciyan, a regular percussionist with Al Dimeola, Joe Zawinal and Lucky Peterson; and Ara Dinkjian, whose Night Ark recordings topped the charts in Turkey and Greece.
Richard Hagopian (ud and vocals)
Yuri Yunakov (saxophone)
Omar Faruk Tekbilek (zurna and ney)
Hasan Iskut (kanun)
Harold Hagopian (violin)
Arto Tunçboyaciyan (percussion)
Ara Dinkjian (guitar)
Chris Marashlian (bass)
1. Rompi Rompi 4:06
2. Nihavent 4:46
3. Istemem Babacim 4:06
4. Kadife 5:50
5. Muhabbet 8:12
6. Minoush 3:34
7. Fincan 4:32
8. Konyali 2:31
9. Beledy 3:03
10. Siseler 4:59
“While this may look like your run-of-the-mill bellydance recording (with the requisite sexy photo of a bellydancer on the cover), don’t be fooled. These guys are extraordinary and the recording lives up to its subtitle: ‘The Most Exciting Belly Dance Music of the Century!’ You’ll find none of that slick, weak-kneed over-synthesized stuff that gets played as background music in Middle Eastern restaurants. Some of the finest musicians from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the US have convened to play the real thing.
I was a bit skeptical when I saw a sax player in the credits, but Yuri Yunakov plays as though the saxophone were invented in the Middle East. Richard Hagopian is an excellent singer and oud player. He provides the central anchor around which the other musicians revolve. Hasan Iskut plays the kanun with the rippling technique of an expert. Omar Faruk Tekbilek lets loose on the zurna and ney with wild abandon. Harold Hagopian is credited with producing the recording and playing the violin, and he handles both tasks admirably.
The rhythm section is subtle, but powerful and always in control. Some of the tracks are fast and furious, but many have a refined sense of tempo. These musicians rely not on speed, but on meticulous attention to rhythm and phrasing to make the music dance. A particularly delightful track is the instrumental ‘Nihavent’. A gentle introduction is given on the ney and then the band enters, each musician ornamenting the lovely tune in a manner that shows off his instrument’s qualities. Another compelling track is ‘Beledy’, which contains a dialogue between the percussion section and the zurna. The zurna plays a melody with a very narrow range over intricate Middle Eastern drumming.
‘Minoush’ is one of the many selections that feature the voice of Richard Hagopian. At the beginning of the verses he holds out a long note while the others vamp, building up the tension. There isn’t a bad cut on this recording....I dare anyone to keep still while listening to it.”
“There are indeed classic undulating Middle Eastern rhythms like ‘Kadife’, complete with a wailing zurna. ‘Beledy’ is a wild, gyrating tune played entirely on zurna backed by percussion. But also featured is the softer underbelly of this dance genre. On ‘Nihavent’, Hasan Iskut’s gently plucked kanun weaves amidst the sharper ney notes of flutist Omar Faruk Tekbilek. On ‘Muhabbet’, Richard Hagopian’s oud trades soulful solos with violin and kanun for a full 2 1/2 minutes before the percussion enters, the pace quickens, and a dance tempo emerges. Armenian-American Hagopian is righly hailed as one of the best oud players on the planet. When the last note of this album sounds it will be his playing that lingers....”