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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa


By Jill Ettinger
Published January 20, 2006

Under The Olive Tree
Magda Records

Under The Olive Tree is the latest from the Yuval Ron Ensemble, a collection of musicians dedicated to fostering an understanding of Middle Eastern cultures and religions, not always an easy task. So when all else fails… there’s always music. For what our linear human minds cannot comprehend, we can feel and understand through the grace of all art. Vocals by Najwa Gibran and Maya Haddi are perfect, supported by the usual suspects from this part of the world: the lovely oud, dumbek drums, flutes, clarinets and keyboards, to name a few. An outstanding medley of Iraqi love songs, Egyptian folk songs and Jewish, Arabic and Sufi prayers proves that borders are only lines in the sand (“Illahi,” “Fogel Nakhal,” “Shaya Dance”). The tracks flow as if they were written by the same composer leaving one to contemplate the deep connections at the roots of these warring cultures. Olive Tree is a stellar recording both musically and spiritually, with important political ramifications as well.