Rami Gabriel composes original music within and across traditions, he also performs professionally on Oud and Guitar.

With Joel Paterson Photo by Marc PoKempner

With Joel Paterson
Photo by Marc PoKempner

As an oud player, Rami studied with Dr. Scott Marcus, Dr. Eric Ederer, Dr. Alfred Gemil (Cairo), Osama Zeadan (Cairo), Mehmet Bitmez (Istanbul), and William Shaheen. His repertoire is focused on Middle Eastern Classical (i.e. wasla and taqsim traditions). He also performs repertoire from the Golden age of Arabic music, with a focus on Egyptian and Lebanese folk and pop songs from the 1950s and ’60s, in takht or solo settings.

On the acoustic guitar, Rami performs early jazz and country blues. You might catch him at the Green Mill with Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan.

Rami’s compositions are in the Arabic tradition, the traditions of early American jazz and blues, and a unique syncretism.

Past performances include: Disney Hall in Los Angeles, CA (Glenn Branca, Symphony 13); WBEZ Chicago Public Radio; Chicago World Music Festival; Green Mill cocktail lounge; Chicago Cultural Center, The International Society for Improvised Music conference, the Midwinter, Summer and Art in the Barn Midwest Gypsy Swing fests in Madison, WI. Old Town School of Folk music – Maurer hall, The Hideout, The Empty Bottle, Rosa’s Blues Lounge, Mayne Stage.

His record of original compositions and Jazz standards, Guitar for a living, was released in June 2017, Musicians on the album include: Stephen T. Asma, Nick Coventry, Jonathan Doyle (on jug), Alex Hall, Miles Jay, Scott Ligon, K.C. McDonough, Joel Paterson, Jake Sanders, and N. Shawaf. Pick it up here.

Dr. Gabriel was the 2015-2016 Fellow at the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR), where he studied links between Arabic music theory and African precursors to American blues.

Currently in production is an album supported by an Illinois Arts Council, 2018 Independent artist grant entitled Arabic Xhaman that traces an auditory trajectory between tradition, innovation, and assimilation. The inspiration for the project stems from intellectual contemplation during the CBMR fellowship concerning how the call of tradition receives multifarious responses from diaspora immigrant communities. As part of the artistic process, an essay entitled ‘Tradition, Influence, and Assimilation’ will be composed as liner notes for the album. This project brings together traditional music, experimental sound, and improvisation.

Also in production are two albums of original soul country rock n’ roll songs by Rami and the Reliables — Rami, Alex Hall, Casey McDonough, and Scott Ligon – recorded at Reliable recorders in Chicago.

Hear a couple tracks here. 

In Summer 2016, Rami created three pieces from archival materials entitled, The sound of the Black archive in Chicago under a Black Metropolis Research Consortium summer fellowship using personally-collected field recordings as well as sounds from archives at University of Chicago Special collections — Jazz institute, Harold Washington public library, and the Vivian Harsh Collection.

In Care of (2016) is a set of original new world Arabic compositions, it features Miles Jay on bass and lyra, Nick Coventry on violin and viola, Ronnie Malley on percussion, Alex Udvary on cymbalom, and Alfonso Ponticelli and Jake Sanders on guitars.

Hear a song here.

Pick up the album here:


In 2014-2015, Rami received an Illinois Arts Council grant to record original compositions merging Arabic music with Chicago blues. Hear some tracks here.

front and back cover

Pick it up here.

Oud blues & New traditions is the culmination of eight years in Chicago. The compositions include melodic and rhythmic elements drawn from classical Arabic and Turkish music, as well as rhythms, feels, and riffs drawn from American country blues and traditional jazz. The album stands as a testimony to the vitality, diversity, and openness of the musical community in Chicago.

From 2008 – 2013, he was a member of Swing Hakim (2011 album).

WMF press

Most recent videos on youtube channel

Original Oud composition:

Original Oud waltz:

As a guitar player, Rami performs and composes Early American Jazz and Blues.

Original guitar rag:

Early jazz with Joel Paterson

Gypsy Jazz with Alfonso Ponticelli

Lastly, Rami makes Audio Postcards from sounds collected during his travels;

For the full collection, visit my band camp page.

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