On this album, Hossam Ramzy delivers quite an offering to the world. Contained within are pieces of magnificence, each track sending the listener on a different journey, all of which feature world-class musicians that have lended their hands toward this effort, and of which have inspired Ramzy in the past.
Rock the Tabla is a delectable dish of sorts, borrowing Asian, African and, at times, European flavours. With all of the flavours mixed, the musicians of this album have crafted an enticing sonic cuisine. Even though the album title alludes to Hossam Ramzy being the centre of attention on this album, make no mistake, this is most definitely a team effort. Ramzy’s virtuosic display of tabla playing plays a key role on this album, and is prominent in every aspect, but the efforts of Ramzy’s “Special Guests” complete the sound, and offer an atmosphere that both world music enthusiast and casual music listener alike can enjoy.
The album finds energy from the combined percussive efforts of Ramzy and big players such as Billy Cobham and Manu Katché, yet there lies a deep, worldy ambience found in the surrounding textures, supplied by acclaimed musicians like Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Phil Thornton. The overall sound of the album ranges from being cheerful and high-spirited to contemplative and meditative. Songs such as “Cairo to India” and “Billy Dancing” have undeniable grooves that are easy to appreciate, and they try to bring out the belly dancing beast that dwells inside of you. “Shukran Arigato” is a particularly impressive piece that sees Japanese percussionist Joji Hirota and Hossam Ramzy team up to deliver a pulse-pounding musical piece. Hearing Japanese and Arabian percussion playing in unison is an interesting experience. It’s like hearing two worlds call out to each other and make love – hot, sweaty, interplanetary bonding.
I’d invite all music fans to check this out. You don’t need to be a new agey “I only buy organic” type of person to be able to be entertained by Rock the Tabla. Likewise, you don’t need to sit cross-legged and huff the aroma of incense sticks to understand the album. All it takes is open ears and an open mind. I would like to add that those of you out there who are musicians, ones that like to focus on the technical aspects of composition, this will probably make your day. Either way, lay down and expose yourself to these sounds.