So, I stumble happily upon the surprisingly good Buddha Bar compilations out of France, which grew out of the music they play at Paris' bar of the same name.
I suddenly find myself wallopped upside the head with absolute beauty and bliss in the form of Omar Faruk Tekbilek's version of "La Ilaha Il Allah". It reminded me of something that Vangelis might've recorded in his prime had he lived on the other side of the Bosphorus, but although it used modern electronic instrumentation, it was also very respectful in its use of traditional instruments.
I did a search and found his lovely website -- it turns out that Tekbilek is a master musician who plays well over a dozen instruments. Although born in Turkey, he met his wife while touring, and now lives with her in upstate New York. At first, he couldn't find regular work as a musician in the US, so for years he worked in a clothing company, playing in NYC clubs on the weekends. Fortunately, his talent was discovered and he has been able to quit his day job, though he is much better known in Europe than in the US -- he was recently nominated for an award in the 2003 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. Tekbilek has performed with other notable musicians, such as Ofra Haza, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Simon Shaheen.
So, now a man in his early 50's, Tekbilek is finally starting to be considered as one of the best Middle Eastern musicians in the world, even if surprisingly few people have heard his music yet.
Here's your chance. BBC3 is streaming "Don't Cry My Love" off of his new album "Alif". It sounds gorgeous. I want...
***Extra! Omar Faruk Tekbilek also does a radio show every Sunday night at 11 PM EST (8 PM PST/ 4 AM Monday, GMT), on WDYN, which streams all of their broadcasts!***