The deep and soulful sound of Spanish flamenco is rooted in a unique series of historical events and cultural overlaps that stretch across centuries, reaching from India to the New World—none more important than the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the eighth century.
Early in the Moors’ reign, an illustrious Iraqi oud player, Ziryab, fled Baghdad in fear for his life, as the story goes, and migrated to Córdoba, a cultural center of Al-Andalus (Andalusia). He brought with him a profound musical heritage and a host of innovations that laid the foundation for Spanish music. Among many other things, he initiated an evolutionary process that led to the development of the modern flamenco guitar.
The circle has come round again, and another illustrious Iraqi oud player, Rahim AlHaj, has fled political tyranny in Baghdad, carrying with him an ancient musical heritage and a head full of innovative ideas. Among those ideas is his determination to engage players across a wide range of musical genres to explore the common language of music, which reflects our common humanity.
On Under the Rose, AlHaj combines with the world-renowned guitarist Ottmar Liebert to unite the ancestral Iraqi tradition with modern flamenco, celebrating and exploring the family connections. Liebert, who has incorporated his own innovative ideas into the vocabulary of flamenco—bringing electric bass, synthesizer, electronics, drum kit, and more into the mix—proves a compelling musical foil to the ancient sound of the oud and AlHaj’s contemporary approach to the instrument.
— Mel Minter