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Rock The TablaHossam Ramzy assembles all-star cast for biggest album yet

Hossam Ramzy realizes a 10-year dream with the release of Rock The Tabla on August 30th 2011. For this album Hossam decided to invite some of his friends and the musicians he most respects and admires to join him. The fact that A. R. Rahman, Billy Cobham, Manu Katché and Omar Faruk Tekbilek were only too keen to accept the invitation is testament to the respect that the musical world holds for Hossam Ramzy.

While Hossam has enjoyed a distinguished solo career as perhaps the leading exponent of Egyptian music of modern times, he has also dedicated a large part of his career to collaborations. From Led Zeppelin to Shakira, Hossam has worked with some of the biggest stars and most talented musicians in the world.

With Rock The Tabla comes time for Ramzy to turn the tables and invite some of the musicians he most admires to contribute to an album of his own. “You can expect music that is born out of love and respect for these artists and music that really just moves me personally”, he says. The idea for Rock The Tabla was conceived some 10 years ago, and while it has been a huge part of Hossam’s life and career for the last decade, in that time he has still managed to release more than a dozen albums in his own name, and perform on many more. He has travelled the world with his Egyptian dance concerts and workshops, worked with some of pop’s biggest names (including Ricky Martin and Shakira), and contributed to several motion picture soundtracks.

Selecting the musicians for Rock The Tabla was not a proposition Hossam took lightly. “Perfection takes time”, he quips. So how did he come to choose the artists to invite to be part of the album?

“Billy Cobham is one of my biggest idols”, says Hossam. “When I first heard his playing [on the Mahavishnu Orchestra album ‘Birds of Fire’], I thought ‘Yes, this is what I want to do. I want to play like this, in my own interpretation, but at this quality.’ He was a major source of inspiration for me, so how could I not invite him?”

“A.R. Rahman contacted me in 2002 out of the blue; he was doing a film called ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of 3 Cities’. I was so touched that [A.R. Rahman] would come all the way to meet me in my home and ask me to play on the soundtrack. I fell in love with the guy and we became such good brothers. I don’t think we have really discovered this man’s dimensions or the full extent of his creativity yet.”

Hossam had previously worked with Manu Katché on Peter Gabriel’s albums, and Omar Faruk Tekbilek on a tour of Australia. “These are people I really have the highest of musical, and human, respect for”, says Hossam.

Rock The Tabla is the highlight-to-date of a lifetime dedicated to music. Having left Egypt for England in the mid-1970s to ply his trade as a jazz drummer, Hossam soon found his way to working with Andy Sheppard and Geoff Williams. This set the course for a career of high-profile collaborations.

Returning to his first love of ethnic Egyptian percussion lead Hossam to work with Peter Gabriel, and in the mid-90s Jimmy Page & Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) asked Hossam to assemble a band of Egyptian musicians and join them on their ‘No Quarter: Unledded’ reunion tour and subsequent album. Hossam would provide Arabic arrangements to Led Zeppelin classics such as Kashmir and Four Sticks. In time everyone from The Rolling Stones to Sting and Loreena McKennitt would invite Hossam to work with them. His desire and ability to inject Egyptian and Middle Eastern rhythms into popular music has earned Hossam the moniker ‘Egypt’s Ambassador of Rhythm’. With Rock The Tabla the ambassador receives his guests on his home ground.





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