Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
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Rabih Abou-Khalil

1957 -

Origin: Germany / Lebanon

Genres: Jazz, World

A virtuoso who has collaborated and recorded with musicians from every genre, from the greatest names in jazz to traditional Arab musicians to classical ensembles, Rabih Abou-Khalil has made his name beyond the beaten musical path with a rich sound poised between East and West, at the boundaries of jazz, Arab music and classical music. Born in Lebanon in 1957 and raised in the cosmopolitan Beirut of the ’60s, he began playing the oud at age 4. War in Lebanon compelled him to leave his country in 1978 for Munich, where he pursued classical music training and took up the flute. Exposing himself to Western culture and cultural cross-pollination, he enhanced his approach to the oud with techniques usually reserved for jazz guitar. His first album, Compositions & Improvisations (1982), swiftly established him as a name to watch, both for as a composer and an instrumentalist with a style marked by complex rhythms that flout every rule, overlaid with melodic motifs, integrating forms usually exclusive to classical music. He went on to work and record with an array of internationally renowned musicians including Charlie Mariano, Glen Moore, Glen Velez, Ramesh Shotham, and later on, Sonny Fortune, Steve Swallow and Kenny Wheeler, as well as composing for string quartets and orchestras. Accompanied by musicians from a variety of different cultures playing music powered by exoticism and creative interplay, his career features over twenty albums including Hungry People (2012), an album with a humanist impact inspired by human suffering around the world.


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