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El Hob Halal
by Hossam Ramzy
Hossam Ramzy (1953 to 2019) was an Egyptian percussionist and composer. Hossam Ramzy was born in Cairo, Egypt, on December 15th 1953. Born into a wealthy Cairo family, he began playing the 'darbuka' and 'tabla' instruments at an early age (he also moved to Saudi Arabia for a time to learn traditional Bedouin music styles). As a percussionist, he worked with such Western artists as Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as well as with Arabic music artists including Rachid Taha and Khaled. In the 1970s, Ramzy took up residence in London, England, and began playing with saxophonist Andy Sheppard - his collaborations with whom, plus other 'jazz' musicians, earned him the nickname 'The Sultan of Swing'. In 1989, he worked with Peter Gabriel on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ", which brought him to the attention of other artists including Frank Asher and the 'Gipsy Kings'. In 1994, he returned to Egypt to found a ten-piece ensemble specifically to perform on the two ex-'Zepp' artists' album of the same year, "No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded" - he and his ensemble also gained exposure by touring with the duo throughout 1995 in support of that album. The following year, Ramzy released the first of three collaborations with English arranger Phil Thornton, called "Eternal Egypt" - its success was mainly due to its blend of Arabic and Western music, and prompted the follow-up albums "Immortal Egypt" and "Enchanted Egypt". In 1996, he and his percussion section played with the 'rock' group 'Big Country' at Dingwalls Club in London, following which the band's 'live' album "Eclectic" was released. In 1998, he performed with Rachid Taha, Khaled and Faudel at their "1,2,3 Soleils" concert, before backing Khaled once more on the Claude Challe album "Flying Carpet". In 2000, rapper 'Jay-Z' sampled Ramzy's version of "Khosara" for his own "Big Pimpin'", while during the new millennium he increasingly began to work more as a music arranger for other pop stars. In 2005, he did such work on Ricky Martin's album "Life", as well as on Shakira's LP "She Wolf". He also contributed two songs to the soundtrack for the film "Prince of Persia" and one to the soundtrack on "Conan The Barbarian". His final album, entitled "Rock the Tabla", was released in August 2011, and featured the Indian composer A R Rahman, as well as Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Manu Katche and Billy Cobham. Ramzy owned houses in London and Cairo with his wife, the Brazilian belly dancer Serena, and made a cameo appearance in the 1993 film "Son of the Pink Panther". His main award came in 1999 - the "New Age Voice Award" for 'Best Contemporary World Music', for his album "Immortal Egypt". Hossam Ramzy died while visiting Brazil with his wife on September 10th 2019. He was 65, and had been undergoing treatment for a heart ailment recently.
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Posted: 17th October 2019
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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