Time Out provides an excellent introduction to Dhafer Youssef:

“…the Tunisian vocalist and oud virtuoso juxtaposes the ancient, mystical, hypnotic music of Islamic Sufism with the textures of electric jazz.”

While Dhafer Youssef’s electronic side is more evident in older recordings like Divine Shadows (2006) or Digital Prophecy (2003), the personnel he has assembled for the more acoustic sound of Abou Nawas Rhapsody (2010) generates a really unusual sound with the oud as the leading instrument. Captured live during the Jazz Sous Les Pommiers festival 2010 in Normandy, Dhafer Youssef (oud and vocals), Chris Jennings (bass), Mark Giuliana (drums) and young Armenian wizard Tigran Hamasyan (piano) are joy to watch and listen to.

In addition to being an accomplished oud player, he often electrifies audiences with soaring vocal performances. From the age of five, the musician also trained as a singer in the Sufi tradition and started his musical career as a young Muezzin. Over the years, the musician has blended this early singing background into his music to deliver a very original mix of World and Jazz fusion.

In the end, what I seek is the Tajalli: the dream, the ecstasy, call it spiritual lust. Beauty is a real, sensual and simple concept: what we see, hear, taste and feel, guided by desire and inspired by love. Dhafer Youssef – Abu Nawas Rhapsody press release

Dhafer Youssef Abu Nawas Rhapsody
Dhafer Youssef – Abu Nawas Rhapsody (2010)