It's hard to imagine that one of the most renowned Middle Eastern drummers and teachers in the world hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., and not the Middle East, but with a melange of styles and a talent that can only be described as virtuoso, Raquy Danziger has wowed audiences, and masters, with her beat on Arabic drumming.
Initially a purist in Arabic, Turkish and Persian styles when she first started drumming after studying rhythmic cycles in Varanasi, India, over 10 years ago, it wasn't until an impromptu session with her partner, Liron Peled, who had definite hard rock sensibilities, that she started to meld her own take on ancient drumming techniques, issuing forth a quasi east-meets-west wall of percussion.
"Liron and I were living together for years, but I was playing traditional Arabic music and he was playing hardcore rock music,"she said. "It never even occurred to us to try to play together, and then just one day we started jamming and we combined my style with his style, which is the Arabic music with a hardcore kind of a feel. And it just sounded so nice and we said, 'Wow this really works.'
The pair was so taken with the innovative style, they recorded an entire album, Dust, with the duo performing on as many as six different instruments for the recording. After realizing they couldn't reproduce the sound on the album in a live atmosphere with only two musicians, they recruited other musicians for the CD release party, who would eventually become Raquy and The Cavemen.
The group isn't a glorified drum circle, they employ a vast arsenal of exotic instruments, such as the dumbek, an Arabic goblet drum and the pillar of Raquy's love for percussion; the zarb, a low pitched Iranian drum; the riq, an Arabic tambourine; and the Iranian kamanche, an ancient bowed spike fiddle that Raquy uses for melodic purposes over the steady rhythms provided by The Cavemen.
"The instrument kind of actually found me,"she said. "I was accompanying on the drums for a Persian musician, and I did this one gig and he said instead of paying me in money, he could give me this kamanche. I started listening to other players and found a voice in it.
Raised in a family of classically trained musicians