Al 'Azifoon is blessed with a close friendship with members of the Middle Eastern band Helm, based in Fairfax, CA. Additionally, the two groups share a mutual love of traditional acoustic Middle Eastern music. Therefore, when Helm's touring and performance schedule permits, the musicians in Helm, can often be found augmenting Al 'Azifoon's lineup as special guest star performers. means "dream" in Arabic, and "Al 'Azifoon" means "the musicians" in Arabic -- and the synergy of these two groups of talented friends performing together really does create a "Dream Musicians" group!
The primary members of the Middle Eastern Band Helm are:
Mark Bell, Middle Eastern percussionist extraordinaire;
Ling Shien Bell, vocals, Middle Eastern woodwinds,and microtonal accordion, and more!; and,
David TwoHawk Glazier, Middle Eastern percussionist, artist, and Apache Healer.
Photos: Al 'Azifoon with Helm performing for Jawbone's Moroccan-themed corporate party at Chambers Restaurant and Lounge, SF, CA on December 6, 2012.
Mark Bell is a Grammy-award winning Middle Eastern and World Music percussionist. He began playing Middle Eastern percussion in 1972 and got his first regular drumming gig that same year playing for Jamila Salimpour's legendary folkloric troupe Bal Anat. He performed for many years in both Arabic and Persian nightclubs in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, as well as many California Renaissance Faires. He worked as a full-time musician during the boom-time era of belly dance nightclubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, including performing as a regular house musician at the Baghdad, the Casbah, Apadana, Cabaret Tehran and Delilah's. Mark has traveled and studied percussion extensively throughout the Arab world.
Two of the master percussionists he has studied with intensively include Mahmoud Hamouda in Egypt and Farhadman in Iran. His international studies as well as his tireless dedication to the art of Middle Eastern percussion are why his is performance style is appreciated by Arabic, Turkish, and Persian musicians and audiences members as well as by Western audiences.
Mark plays Arabic tabla (a hand drum also known as doumbek, dumbek, or darbukka), toumbak or zarb (a Persian hand drum), tabla beladi or davul (a type of bass drum usually played with sticks for Saidi (Upper Egyptian folkloric music as well as for Zaffat - Wedding Processional music), and various instruments of the tambourine (called "riqq" in Arabic) and frame drum (called "duff" in Arabic") family.
Mark performs, tours, and records regularly with his band Helm (which in Arabic means “Dream”) based in Fairfax, CA. Mark founded Helm with his wife Ling Shien Bell, and they perform traditional acoustic music from the Middle East including music from cultures all along the Silk Road including: Turkish, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Afghani, Hindi, Balkan, Rom as well as Ling Shien's original compositions, many of which are top selling hits, especially in the Tribal and Fusion Style Belly Dance communities both nationally and internationally.
Mark performs with many Middle Eastern musical groups throughout Northern California, and he has been a guest star performing with Al 'Azifoon for Zaffa Wedding Processionals bookings as well as corporate events and private party bookings since 2007.
Photo: Al 'Azifoon with Mark Bell on Tabla Baladi performing Zaffa Wedding Processional on a garden roof top, Downtown Oakland, CA in 2010.
Above photos by Scott Belding, Carl F. Sermon, Khalilah Samah, and Nathan Craver
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