Rabih Abou-Khalil

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Rabih Abou-Khalil
Rabih Abou Khalil.jpg
Cactus of Knowledge concert in Bonn, Germany, with Luciano Biondini
Background information
Born (1957-08-17) August 17, 1957 (age 62)
Beirut, Lebanon
GenresEthno jazz, world fusion
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, bandleader
InstrumentsOud, flute
Years active1980–present

Rabih Abou-Khalil (Arabic: ربيع أبو خليل‎, born August 17, 1957)[1] is an oud player and composer who combines traditional Arab music with jazz, classical music, and other styles.


Rabih Abou-Khalil grew up in Beirut and moved to Munich, Germany during the Lebanese Civil War in 1978.[2]


Abou-Khalil studied the oud at the Beirut conservatory with oudist Georges Farah. After moving to Germany, he studied classical flute at the Academy of Music in Munich under Walther Theurer.

He has often blended traditional Arab music with jazz, rock, and classical music, and has earned praise such as "a world musician years before the phrase became a label—makes the hot, staccato Middle Eastern flavour and the seamless grooves of jazz mingle as if they were always meant to."[3] With Anouar Brahem he has helped highlight the oud as a vehicle of world fusion. One critic likened Abou-Khalil's oud playing style to jazz guitar, writing, "Abou-Khalil spins more oud notes in ten seconds than most jazz guitarists do in their short commercial lifespans".[4]


His first album for the ECM was Nafas (1988). Al-Jadida (1992) featured alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune; Blue Camel (1992), featured alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler. Morton's Foot (2004) brings in Luciano Biondini on accordion and Sardinian singer Gavino Murgia. Journey to the Centre of an Egg (2005) features a trio of oud, piano (Joachim Kühn, who doubles on alto saxophone) and drums.

Nafas and Tarab make use of the ney, the Turkish end-blown flute. Arabian Waltz featured Abou-Khalil's compositions for string quartet (performed by the Balanescu Quartet), along with oud, tuba (or serpent), and frame drums.

In 2008, Abou-Khalil released an album entitled "Em Português" ("In Portuguese"), where he mixes fado with Arabic music with the participation of the fadista Ricardo Ribeiro.

He has worked with ARTE Quartett (saxophone quartet), Alexander Bălănescu (violin), Luciano Biondini (accordion), Milton Cardona (conga), Sonny Fortune (alto saxophone), Michel Godard (tuba), Joachim Kühn (piano, alto saxophone), Howard Levy (harmonica), Charlie Mariano (alto saxophone), Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet), Glen Moore (bass), Mark Nauseef (percussion), Setrak Sarkissian (darabukka), Ramesh Shotham (Indian percussion), Steve Swallow (bass), Glen Velez (frame drum, percussion), Kenny Wheeler (flugelhorn)

Visions of Music[edit]

Rabih Abou-Khalil hosted the television series Visions of Music. This 13-part documentary series produced by EuroArts Entertainment set out to explore the blending of jazz with traditional music (Caribbean salsa, Brazilian samba, Argentine tango, French musette, Spanish flamenco, Jewish klezmer, New Orleans R&B and Mississippi blues, as well as West African, South African, Indian, and Middle Eastern music) through historical footage and interviews of musicians (by Abou-Khalil). The music of the TV-series was released on the album Visions of Music - World Jazz by Enja Records in 1998.


As guest musician[edit]

  • Chris Karrer: Dervish Kish (Schneeball/Indigo, 1990/91)
  • Michael Riessler: Heloise (Wergo, 1992)
  • Charlie Mariano & Friends: Seventy (veraBra records, 1993)
  • Glen Moore: Nude Bass Ascending (Intuition, 1996/97)
  • Ramesh Shotam: Madras Special (Permission Music, 2002)


  • Jakob Wertheim & Rabih Abou-Khalil: KopfKino cassette (Ohrbuch-Verlag, 1988)
  • The Jazz Club Highlights DVD (TDK JAZZ CLUB, 1990)
  • Rabih Abou-Khalil presents Visions of Music - World Jazz accompanying TV series (Enja, 1999)


  1. ^ Kennedy, Gary W. (2002). "Abou-Khalil, Rabih". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries. p. 6. ISBN 1561592846.
  2. ^ "Rabih Abou-Khalil". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  3. ^ The Guardian
  4. ^ Orlando Weekly

External links[edit]