The unfretted Oud may be the hardest of all instruments to play, with its delicately flattened intervals, but Mukhtar extracts magic: he can make it dream, gallop, or thunder, and he uses silence to great effect.
~Michael Church | The Independent~
The concepts of the great Arabic philosopher, Al- Kindi, are the foundation on which Ahmed Mukhtar has developed his skills in playing the Oud. He practices Al- Kindi theoretical concepts, by using music liberated from clinched predictable styles, music based on the rich wonderful musical traditions, but at the same time enriched by the spirit of contemporary music.
Ahmed Mukhtar’s blessed fingers fashioning shades and shapes from his instrument that most people can only dream of. Veering from sprightly melodic segments to passages of innovative strokes and strums, the effect is a unique excursion to the heart and soul of sensual acoustics.
There’s something reassuring about putting on a CD called Music from Iraq and it sounding just like that – music from that great centre of Arab culture. Oud (lute) master Ahmed Mukhtar is one of the most prominent Iraqi-born musicians working in the UK today and he has devoted himself to preserving the musical heritage of his homeland. While Mukhtar composed most of the instrumental tracks on this album, they really do evoke the poise and soulfulness of authentic Iraqi classical music.
His oud technique is remarkably precise and perfectly supported by the small ensemble, particularly Hassan Hassan’s restrained percussion playing. One of two titles may not bode well but are actually very successful: ‘Blues of the Oud’ is a rather ingenious piece that uses a traditional Iraqi maqam (mode) that hints at the blues scale. It does sound a little bit like the ‘Pink Panther’ theme slinking along the Euphrates, but in a very endearing and successful way.