Middle Eastern Heavens: Ihsan Al-Munzer - Belly Dance
Belly Dance is the 3rd release in BBE’s Middle Eastern Heavens series of re-issues of the albums made by legendary Lebanese composer Ihsan Al-Munzer. Released originally in 1981 and composed against the backdrop of the Lebanese civil war, Belly Dance continues Al-Munzers fusion of Levantine melodies with European rhythms, not least in his love letter to his home country, the synth infused, percussion heavy I Love Lebanon and the bass line driven Back To My Love.
The Middle Eastern Heavens series explores the back catalogue of one of the most influential composers and musicians from the Levant region. Known as the Godfather of Belly Dance, Ihsan Al-Munzer lived in the Ghobeiri suburb of Beirut. After picking up his brother’s accordion as a 9 year old and flawlessly replicating any song he heard on the radio he would go on to study at the Lebanese Conservatory and started his first band, Moonlight, in the 60s after The Beatles had exploded around the World. It was after a decade spent living in Italy and touring in Europe that Ihsan returned to pre-civil war Beirut and a melting pot of cosmopolitanism and multi-culturalism to continue as a musician and hone his composition and production skills and create what would become the Ihsan Al-Munzer sound and the fusion of regional and global musical traditions.
The Middle Eastern Heavens series of re-issues is curated by fellow Beirut native son Ernesto Chahoud.
Born in 1981, his first forays into music were singing revolutionary songs in his parents’ house where they housed fighters from left-wing and Communist militias. As a child he would visit the street sellers who would sell cassettes from trolleys with a tape player hooked up to speakers. He would also visit the record shops of Beirut and buy records despite having no real musical knowledge at that time. ‘I used to buy one or two records and listen to them for days. My ears were leading, like what Duke Ellington used to say: ‘If it sounds good, it IS good’. This and the abundance of cheap and unwanted vinyl records he was able to purchase due to the advent of CDs, allowed Ernesto to build-up his eclectic taste and musical knowledge as well as discover the sounds of his home city, including the music of
Belly Dance is re-issued by BBE as a digital release and further complements the already released volumes in the Middle-Eastern Heavens series; Sonatina For Maria and Belly Dance Disco.
Release Date: October 6th, 2023