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Music Review: Zade – One Night in Jordan: A Concert for Peace

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Pianist/composer Zade has become something of a cultural ambassador in addition to his role as musician.  After September 11, 2001, he made it a mission to educate the world about his Jordanian homeland, mainly by performing his songs across the country.  His latest effort, One Night in Jordan: A Concert for Peace, boasts over 100 musicians from 40 nations performing orchestral pieces in Jordan's Roman Amphitheatre.

Recorded in front of a live audience on June 19, 2008, the concert includes participants such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Voices Choir, and various rock musicians from Los Angeles.  Among these musicians are violinist Karen Briggs (Soul II Soul, Wynton Marsalis), Spanish guitarist Ramon Stagnaro (Josh Groban, Shakira), and woodwind virtuoso Pedro Eustache (Paul McCartney, Don Henley).  Zade assembled this supergroup to perform his compositions, all to bring, according to the CD's liner notes, "a message of peace to the word from our Jordanian family…It represents our commitment and yearning to a final reconciliation in the Middle East." 

Playing to an enthusiastic crowd, Zade expresses his sincerity throughZadehis songs.  He is at his best when incorporating world music into his compositions, such as the Spanish guitar-inflected "Helwa Ya Baladi" and the swirling, Middle Eastern "Zaina."  The sensual "Tango" also appeals through its percussion, piano, and violin.  Similarly, percussion drives "Haya," during which one can envision belly dancers gyrating to its beat.  He often leans toward cinematic sounds, such as the booming "Lion of Jordan," which makes heavy use of the London Voices Choir. 

Also drawing from various inspirational sources, Zade wrote the climactic "Santiago's Dream" after reading Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.  As a welcome change of pace, featured performer Jana lends her vocals to "Comes to an End," backed by the impressive choir.  Finally, "Kingdom of Peace" best exemplifies the blending of Eastern and Western influences, with its dance beat and string-laden arrangement. 

The bottom line: if you enjoy Yanni, Andre Rieu, and similar artists who bridge classical and pop genres, you will find much to like in Zade's One Night in Jordan: A Concert for Peace.  The work represents an ambitious, far-reaching project for the 29-year-old piano prodigy. 

A DVD of the concert is also available in addition to the CD.  For more information on Zade, visit his official website.  For details on One Night in Jordan, visit its dedicated page.  View the trailer for the concert special on his YouTube channel.   

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About Kit O'Toole