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Tomorrow night the 17-member Umm Kulthum Egyptian National Orchestra makes its Chicago debut with a performance at Mandel Hall on the campus of the University of Chicago at 8 PM. I haven't heard them, but as you can probably tell from the name, they play Arabic classical music, the elegant, stately form made famous by the orchestra's namesake. They've performed all around the world in the last 40 years (Egypt’s Ministry of Culture started the orchestra back in 1967), but only under this name since Kulthum's death in 1975. Her vast repertoire makes up a significant chunk of their music.The concert is a benefit for the Arab American Action Network, which partly explains why tickets prices are so steep ($60 and $100 unless you’re a student, in which case they’re $30). Still, we don’t get many opportunities to hear this stuff in the flesh.
Various Artists, Ethiopiques 18—Asguebba! (Buda)
Woody Herman, Keeper of the Flame (Capitol Jazz)
Rolando Alphonso, Something Special: Ska Hot Shots (Heartbeat)
Christoph Gallio/Urs Voerkel/Peter K. Frey, Tiegel (Unheard Music Series)
Eddie Palmieri, La Perfecta (Alegre/Fania)