Nomadica / Dance of the Infidels

nice mix of type and graphic

Nomadica / Dance of the Infidels
Monkfish Records, 2015
Disk, lyrics, booking info available from

David Buchbinder and Roula Said have been exploring world music for over a decade. Their latest band, Nomadica, "re-imagines and recombines the rich, soulful and righteously celebratory musics of the Arabs, Gypsies and Jews." Sometimes sounding like a more Middle-Eastern "Balkan Beat Box," sometimes, as on the opening "Dance of the Infidels," like a Tzadik Records guitar mashup with Bulgarian folk song. What is important is that there is a driving interest in steering clear of boxes and creating music that flows on its own merits and follows the rhythms to its own path.

Another pleasure is the way that Middle Eastern singing is added to the mix—not the sweet, vaguely Middle Eastern sounds we often hear from world music bands, but the Oum Khultum/Fairuz/Farid al Atrache (okay, I reveal my age) driving Middle Eastern singing that can be hard to find here south of the Canadian border. Mix Said's voice with Buchbinder's fluent jazz lines and a dynamic, versatile band and amazing things happen.

It comes as no surprise that in concert they name drop some of my favorite other musicians: the ebullient, "Shout for Jasarov" is a tribute to the father of manic Yugoslav saxophonist, Ferus Mustafov. "Abre Kako" is from the Macedonian Rom singer Esme Redzepova. "Sheesha" comes from my favorite Hungarian balkan band, Besh-o-drom. Buchbinder's own experimental and tuneful jazz sensibilities come to the fore on the intriguing "Kraken."

Traditional lyrics are revised; lyrics are added. The passionate Karaçali: "oh my wild hair lover / my hearts desire / we push we pull each other / like ice like fire", sung in Turkish, Arabic, English is one favorite example, but I'd also have to mention the wonderful balkan harmonies and horns of "Abre Kako," (one of three songs featuring the harmonies of singer Brenna MacCrimmon), the fun, folky, funky, plaintive "Tahtil Shibbak," or the Rahbani brothers love song, "'A Nadda."

Here's the bottom line. At the Ashkenaz 2016 festival, Nomadica's performance was one of the most-talked-about. One of the high points came when the band let loose on the traditional "Ya Salaam" adding in the word for 'peace' in several languages. And on the long drive home from Toronto, it was the only CD that we felt obliged to listen to more than once. This is urgent, inventive, passionate music. If you want the closest thing to world lightning captured on a disk, this recording is essential.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 8 Sep 2016.

Personnel this recording:
Roula Said: vocals, qanun, zills
David Buchbinder: trumpet, flugelhorn, shakers, back-up vocals
Peter Lutek: C. G., & contralto clarinets; soprano, alto & baritone saxophones; frankenpipe
Drew Jurecka: violin, alto saxophone
Demetrios Petsaliakis: electric guitar, oud, baghlama, riqq
RJ Satchithananthan: bass guitar, trombone
Zach Sutton: drum kit
Jaash Singh: darbuka, djembe, tapan

Brenna MacCrummon: vocals (1, 7, 10)
Rob Teehan: tuba (3, 7, 10)
Laila Buchbinder: back-up vocals (11)
Ádám Pettik: darbuka, vocals (12)
Gergely Barcza: EWI (12)


  1. Dance of the Infidels (David Buchbinder / trad.) 4:44
  2. 'A Nadda (Rahbani brothers / David Buchbinder) 3:46
  3. Shout for Jasarov (trad / David Buchbinder) 4:32
  4. Karaçali (trad; lyrics: Roula Said and Brenna MacCrimmon; arr. David Buchbinder) 4:48
  5. Mawwaal (Roula Said) 1:22
  6. Iraqi (trad; arr. Roula Said & Demetrios Pestalakis) 4:11
  7. Nurijin Čoček (trad; arr. David Buchbinder) 3:46
  8. Tahtil Shibbak (trad / David Buchbinder) 2:31
  9. Abre Kako (Esma Redzepova / Stevo Teodoslievki) 3:36
  10. Sheesha (originally 'Meggyújtom a papám' by Besh o droM / lyrics by Roula Said) 3:51

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