El Tanbura – Between the Desert and the Sea

Anyone who has seen El Tanbura in action will know that this is an amazing bunch of passionate musicians to hear. Can an album match up?


Hailing from Egypt’s Port Said, El Tanbura take their name from the distinctive lute-like instrument the members of the band play in a wide variety of sizes and tunings. Unlike most western instruments, tanburas vary in the number of strings they possess, the only limit being the skill of the tanbura player.
The massed sound of tanbura players and the call and response nature of the singing creates a powerful groove, so you can forget any worries that this is music you need to approach with trepidation. It’s good time music, swirling, twirling and thumping its way into your soul.
Having spent some time with the band myself, I can confirm that the infectious joy of the music comes directly from the vibe of this band of brothers. The group is led by the incredibly knowledgeable Zacharia but powered by the love of the musicians for playing their music and hanging out with each other, playing tricks and smoking non-stop.
The album catches the spirit of the group but is no substitute for catching them live. Fortunately you can do that either at Ramadan Nights in London this month on 24 October (see gig guide) or at WOMEX if you are in Sevilla.
El Tanbura – Between the Desert and the Sea is released on World Village / Harmonia Mundi
Link: www.eltanbura.com

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