The word Mazaag in Arabic may posses multiple meanings. Generally used to define a mood or feeling, it is also used to describe the specific “ecstatic mood” that is created during a Tarab performance. The formal Arabic pronunciation of the word is as “Mazaj”, yet under the Egyptian dialect, the Arabic “J” has the sound of a hard “G”. The band’s choice of spelling may suggest to the Arabic listener what sort of musical stylings and even the type of “Mazaag” they may expect.
The group Mazaag consists primarily of its founders, Oudist, Jonatan Gomes Derbaq and Percussionist, George Sadak, yet may feature on occasion guest musical talents familiar with the genre. Their first full length album includes Memphis Symphony Contra-Bassist, Chris Butler, who helps to create a distinctive character to the album’s framework by supporting the melodies of Jonatan’s Oud while adding further power to the groove of George’s distinctive percussive force.
The self-titled album features Jonatan and George’s own arrangements of a few popular Tarab classics of the Egyptian ‘Big-Band Era’ (Cinematic Golden Age) as well as the Levant region Debke classic, 3al 3ein Mulayatin, In addition to some of Mazaag’s own original material, including firey Egyptian Tabla Solos and warm, rich Oud Taqasim. The sound is live, raw and earthy and achieves it’s largeness with a bold, and seemingly archaic purity, steering clear of synthetically generated sensationalism.
In addition to the recording artists, the album’s cover features world renown dance artist, Amani Jabril, who served as the assistant instructor to Master Mahmoud Reda during his world tour of 2011.