One of Philadelphia’s most exciting ongoing musical showcases, the monthly Arab music concert series from Al-Bustan, manages to routinely fill the Trinity Center for Urban Life to near-capacity. There’s a great reason for this. Besides providing a rare and comprehensive crash courses in musical traditions from throughout the Middle East, this series (to which The Key has devoted periodic coverage) brings trailblazing musicians from various disciplines into active collaboration with Al-Bustan’s own cohort of virtuoso Arab classical instrumentalists, the resident Takht Ensemble.
Previous concerts brought the Takht Ensemble together with American classical guitarist Jason Vieaux, Iraqi-Canadian rapper The Narcycist, and Tunisian chanteuse Sonia M’Barek – all of whom are well-respected in their own worlds and reconstructing musical foundations with these collaborations. For their last concert of the season, entitled “Revisiting Hybridity: Latin and Arab Rhythms”, the Takht Ensemble partners with Puerto Rican-born percussionist Rolando Morales-Martes. Best known as the assistant conductor for the heralded stage version of Disney’s The Lion King, Morales-Martes also contributes to other film scores alongside recurring gigs with the Ron Carter Foursight Jazz Quartet, the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, and several Latin and Jazz groups in New York City. If past collaborations are any indication, this performance will produce new interpretive foundations for the melding of historically distanced traditions.
In keeping with Al-Bustan’s multifaceted approach to Arab cultural enrichment and literacy, Morales-Martes will be joined on stage by elementary student percussionists in the organization’s educational program at Kensington’s Moffet School. This is Al-Bustan’s final concert until October and promises to close out their spring series on strong footing.
“Revisiting Hybridity: Latin and Arab Rhythms” begins at the Trinity Center for Urban Life (22nd and Spruce streets) at 8 p.m. Saturday. Click here for tickets and info.