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The world is awash in stringed instruments, each boasting its own remarkable character. Yet sometimes the most exciting sounds stem from mixing these distantly related instruments. On this special engagement Rahim AlHaj, Iraqi master of the lute-like oud, teams up with the fraternal Indian team of Amaan & Ayann Ali Khan, seventh generation players of the sarod, a mainstay of Indian classical music, who are both primed for and predisposed to collaboration: AlHaj’s excellent 2009 Ancient Sounds was recorded with their father, the great Amjad Ali Khan.

Rahim AlHaj was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the instrument. Rahim studied under the renowned Munir Bashir and Salim Abdul Kareem at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. One of the true Iraqi oud masters, AlHaj’s music delicately combines traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling and influence. His compositions are about the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. One of the true oud masters from Iraq, Rahim says that “my music invites the listener to discover the true spirit of the musician.” His compositions are about loss, hope, freedom, and longing. His works establish new concepts without altering the foundation of the traditional Iraqi School of oud.


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