Arabic fusion: Shusmo’s “Pieces”

The only thing that rivals the feeling I get from the classics of Arabic or Balkan music– Umm Kulthum, Petro-Loukas Chalkias, Vassilis Tsitsanis– is to hear new, inventive works drawing on such rich traditions. Waterlily Acoustics has been a treasury of acoustic world fusion, with some standout titles such as Tabula Rasa with Indian slide guitarist V.M. Bhatt, Chinese er-hu (2 string fiddle) player Jie-Bing Chen and Bela Fleck on banjo, and the Grammy-winning A Meeting By The River with the aforementioned Bhatt and Ry Cooder.

Another record that struck me on its release a few years ago was One by New York-based group Shusmo (“شو إسمه”, Levantine Arabic for “What’s it called?”).  Led by Palestinian buzuq player Tareq Abboushi and featuring Peruvian, Greek and American musicians, the group has a strong melodic thread supported by an irresistible lattice of Latin and Arabic rhythms– congas and riqq cover a spectrum of both frequency and rhythmic space.

Below is a transcription of the lead-off track, “Pieces”. You can stream the tune here.

This Thursday June 23, Shusmo celebrates the release of their new record at Joe’s Pub in New York.

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  1. December 22nd, 2011