Mahmoud Kaabour “Al-Rasheedi” was never particularly known for personal music of hi s own. He was a seasoned Lebanese musician who normally performed in Tarab orchestras of the Arab divas of the 1930’s and 1940’s. But when illness confined him to his bedroom in his last years of life, “Al-Rasheedi” began tape recording his own impassioned and soulful violin improvisations that captured the essence of Arabic music and, occasionally, the noise of Beirut’s streets coming through his bedroom window. The audio cassette containing his solo music remained undiscovered for years following his death. Being his oldest grandson who bears his full name, and a person to whom Arabic music is so dear, it felt profound that I was the one to discover the cassette. I was bidding my grandmother goodbye in that same room before leaving to Canada to study cinema. An emotional curiosity moved me to scour the room for a souvenir and there it was: a dust covered tape with grandpa’s name on it. Only in Montreal did I listen to the seven charming improvisations on it, which would haunt me for years.
A decade later, I returned to Beirut to confess my musical discovery to my aging grandmother in an intimate chat which she allowed me to film. Her emotional stories of the violinist upon hearing his music again became the premise of “Teta, Alf Marra” (Grandma, a Thousand Times), an intimate documentary film that pays tribute to them both and gives Mahmoud Kaabour’s music a cinematic platform. Bassist-composer Nabil Amarshi re-orchestrated many of these solos for the soundtrack, and contributed poignant original compositions that accent grandma’s stories of her deceased husband. Amarshi’s and Kaabour’s music braid together in this album into a trans-generational work that commemorates a family’ s love and Beirut’s old music. It is but a modest tribute to
deceased musicians around the world whose music remains undiscovered.
– Mahmoud Kaabour, the grandson