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Rabih Abou-Khalil

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Rabih Abou-Khalil is a Lebanese oud player and composer. He occasionally performs on flute. He has often blended traditional Arab music and Turkish music with jazz, and has collaborated with musicians from the Turkish and Arab music traditions, along with a variety of Western jazz musicians.

Rabih Abou-Khalil grew up in Beirut and moved to Munich, Germany during the civil war in 1978. From early on, he learnt to play the oud, a fretless string instrument, similar to the European lute or Greek bouzouki. He studied in the Beirut conservatory from oud virtuoso Georges Farah. After moving to Germany, he studied classical flute at the Academy of Music in Munich under Walther Theurer. He has often blended traditional Arab music with jazz, and has earned praise such as “a world musician years before the phrase became a label, he makes the hot, staccato Middle Eastern flavour and the seamless grooves of jazz mingle as if they were always meant to” (John Fordham, Guardian 2002). He helped highlight the oud as a vehicle of eclectic “world jazz”. Abou-Khalil and his associates are arguably creating a new international platform for improvised music, comparable to John McLaughlin and his associates in Shakti. Humor is a very important ingredient in Abou-Khalil’s art and live performances. Various compositions are inspired by humorous stories, common to many is the absurdity of “commuting between cultures”. Rabih Abou-Khalil’s CDs are conspicuous for their high quality covers depicting Arabic art.

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