Rahim AlHaj
رحيم الحاج


Rahim AlHaj was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968 and began playing the oud at the age of nine. When he was eighteen he entered the prestigious Music Institute in Baghdad, where he studied under the great Munir Bashir, Salem Abdul Karem and Jamil Bashir. He graduated in 1990 with a degree in composition, and he also obtained a degree in Arabic literature from Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. However, the political situation in Iraq and his opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime forced him to leave the country in 1991, and he spent some time in Jordan and Syria before arriving the United States as a refugee in March 2000. He subsequently settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico and became a US citizen in 2008. Rahim has won numerous awards for his music and has been nominated for a Grammy twice. He has recorded and performed with musicians from many different backgrounds, including guitarist Bill Frisell, accordion player Guy Klucevsek and Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan. Rahim's ouds are made by Baghdad luthier Farhan Hassan.

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Selected Recordings

The Second Baghdad
(RAH 01)

A beautiful selection of Rahim's original compositions that introduce modern concepts into the tradition of Iraqi oud playing.

1. The Second Baghdad (Baghdad AlThania) 4:38
2. Dance of the Palms (Ruqsat AlNakeel) 6:56
3. Dream (Helum) 7:39
4. Sunset of the City (Guroob AlMedina) 5:26
5. Childhood (Tafula) 3:41
6. Missing (Showak) 7:37
7. Yearning (Haneen) 5:19
8. Ehnanah 4:34
9. Horses (Khaiyul) 2:35

Iraqi Music in a Time of War
(Voxlox 103)

This CD was recorded live in New York City in 2003 and features most of the tracks from Rahim's first CD, together with a few extras! Each track also features an introduction to provide some background to the pieces.

1. Introduction 3:10
2. The Second Baghdad / Baghdad AlThania 4:55
3. Introduction 1:06
4. Dance of the Palms / Ruqsat AlNakeel 7:43
5. Introduction 1:07
6. Dream / Helum 9:21
7. Introduction 0:45
8. Sunset of the City / Guriib AlMedina 5:48
9. Introduction 1:11
10. Missing / Showak 7:21
11. Introduction 2:24
12. Iraqi Faces / Wjooh Iraqia 6:47
13. Introduction 0:06
14. Yearning / Haneen 5:59
15. Introduction 0:57
16. Horses / Khaiyul 5:29
17. Introduction (encore) 0:33
18. Eastern Love / Hop Sharki 5:50

Friendship (with Sadaqa Quartet)
(Fast Horse Recordings 103)

A collaboration between Rahim and the Sadaqa quartet: Catherine Harlow (cellist/arranger), David Feldberg (first violin), Carmelo de los Santos (second violin) and Jason Parris (viola).

1. Friendship 2:29
2. Warm Voice 5:40
3. Chant (for Hani) 4:06
4. Sunset of the City 6:18
5. Ali 10:32
6. Second Baghdad 5:23
7. Dream 10:30
8. Oak 8:34

When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq
(Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40533)

On this CD, Rahim presents a series of taqasim on various Iraqi maqamat, and he is accompanied by Souhail Kaspar on percussion.

1. Taqsīm Maqām Ājam 8:48
2. Taqsīm Maqām Mukhālif 4:32
3. Taqsīm Maqām Sīka 7:42
4. Taqsīm Maqām Kurd 8:34
5. Taqsīm Maqām Bayyat-Husayni 7:49
6. Taqsīm Maqām Hijaz 8:16
7. Taqsīm Maqām Lamī 9:19
8. Taqsīm Maqām Sharqī Rast 10:49
9. Taqsīm Maqām Saba 7:05

Home Again
(Fast Horse Recordings FH 017)

A series of compositions inspired by a journey Rahim undertook to his homeland of Iraq in 2004 and his subsequent return to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

1. Closeness 7:06
2. Iraqi Lullaby 7:34
3. Oak 8:23
4. Gray Morning 6:44
5. Qassim 7:20
6. Compassion for Jackie & Michael 4:16
7. Trip 3:52
8. Fly Away 6:06
9. Baghdad, New Mexico 7:31

Ancient Sounds (with Amjad Ali Khan)
(UR Music UR 001)

On this recording, Rahim and Indian sarodist Amjad Ali Khan present a series of extended meditative pieces that show the similarities and differences between their two fretless lutes.

1. Journey 12:11
2. Celebrations 10:34
3. Water 9:36
4. Common Destination 7:55
5. Release of the Dove 10:28
6. Missing You 4:19
7. Dancing Rivers 17:12

Under the Rose
(UR Music UR 003)

Rahim al-Haj teams up with renowned guitarist Ottmar Liebert, bassist Jon Gagan and percussionist Barrett Martin to produce a fantastic contemporary oud recording, combining Middle Eastern traditions with jazz, flamenco and latin influences.

1. Under the Rose 5:02
2. The Delivery 3:51
3. Don't Wait, My Love 6:02
4. The Seduction 4:54
5. Do You Know I Love You 5:26
6. The Coin 4:36
7. Chasing You 5:40
8. A Storm Approaches 5:00
9. Return to Andalusia 5:43
10. Spirit of Saladin 4:51

Little Earth
(UR Music UR 005)

A double CD set comprising a series of original compositions in which Rahim and his Little Earth Orchestra are joined by a diverse range of musicians from around the world. Middle Eastern instruments such as oud, darbuka, riq and daf are combined with traditonal and modern ones such as pipa, sitar, kora and electric guitar.

Disc 1
1. Sama'i Baghdad 4:06
2. The Searching 7:16
3. Sailors Three 3:41
4. Morning in Hyattsville 10:13
5. The Other Time 5:24
6. Rocio 9:08
7. Missing You / Mae Querida 7:27
8. Dance of the Palms 9:58

Disc 2
1. Fly Away 9:47
2. Going Home 7:43
3. Athens to Baghdad 4:25
4. Lullaby 9:48
5. River (The Passage) 11:20
6. Qaasim 10:22
7. Waterfall 8:54



Recording Taqsīm Maqām Sharqī Rast for the CD 'When the Soul is Settled'.

Performance at the Festival du Monde Arabe, Montréal in 2009.

'Dream' (Helum) live at the Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago.

With percussionist Souhail Kaspar at the Village Library, Oklahoma City.

With percussionist Issa Malluf at the Rise Up! event in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

'Friendship' with the Little Earth Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.

Performance with Iranian nay master Hossein Omoumi in Portland, Oregon.

Live performance in New Delhi, India.

Playing with fellow Iraqi oudist Yair Dalal.

Taqsīm Ājam from the CD 'When the Soul is Settled' (audio only).

Taqsīm Hijaz from the CD 'When the Soul is Settled' (audio only).

Taqsīm Lamī from the CD 'When the Soul is Settled' (audio only).

Taqsīm Saba from the CD 'When the Soul is Settled' (audio only).

'Release of the Dove' from the CD 'Ancient Sounds' (audio only).

'Under the Rose' from the CD 'Under the Rose' (audio only).


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