Finally this hour, we're going to listen to a diverse repertoire of music. The group Eliyahu and The Qadim Ensemble performs ancient songs with lyrics in Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian and Turkish.

Here's our reviewer Banning Eyre.

(Soundbite of music)

BANNING EYRE: The first thing to say about this set of diverse offerings from The Qadim Ensemble is that they are beautifully presented. The players bring superb musicianship and palpable enthusiasm to each performance.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. RACHEL VALFER (The Qadim Ensemble): (Singing foreign language)

EYRE: That's the voice of Rachel Valfer. She does most of the singing on this recording, and even when she's backed by a chorus of other vocalists, they rarely resort to harmony. Unison singing is a common thread that runs through many of these regional styles. Here's the technique used on a Yemenite Jewish song from the 17th century.

(Soundbite of song, "Im Nin'alu")

Ms. VALFER: (Singing) (Singing foreign language)

EYRE: The piece might be over three centuries old, but that's not a bad pop hook. The Qadim Ensemble chooses repertoire wisely. The pieces are varied, tuneful and short enough not to tax the attention span.

Eliyahu Sills has studied and performed jazz, Indian classical, Arabic and Turkish music, all of which encourage extended instrumental improvisation, but when Sills takes a solo, usually on the end-blown wooden flute, the ney, he is admirably succinct.

(Soundbite of music)

EYRE: Sills' ney flute along with Valfer's succulent vocals are the stars on this recording. The ney has been called the most human of Arabic and Turkish instruments, a reflection of the very soul. Whether the music comes from Sufi trance ritual or, as in this next sample, a romantic Armenian lament, voice and ney create a sense of human communication with the divine.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. VALFER: (Singing foreign language)

EYRE: Master musicians devote their lives to perfecting the classical and religious traditions The Qadim Ensemble dip into on "Eastern Wind." That very American impulse to nudge disparate elements onto common ground inevitably risks offending purists. For the rest of us, The Qadim Ensemble make little-understood worlds of music accessible and pleasing without in any way trivializing them, and it's hard to find fault with that.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at He reviewed the album "Eastern Wind" by Eliyahu and The Qadim Ensemble.

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