Eddie Kochak, Fred Elias, Hakki Obadia

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Eddie "the Sheik" Kochak parlayed a childhood penchant for drumming eventually into lessons with top New York percussionist Henry Adler. He performed for troops during World War II as a member of the Army, and on his return performed steadily at charity events, supper clubs, and concert stages. He played the Green Grove Manor in Asbury Park, New Jersey for a decade as well as at Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, and Town Hall in New York City. Kochak has been credited for his comedic talent, fine support with the dirbakee (Arabic tom-tom), and resurrecting the debke, native dance of the Middle East. He had long associations with Dean Martin and Danny Thomas (Thomas and Kochak are both of Lebanese extraction). For decades, as a maker and producer of records, not to mention live performances, he ruled the Brooklyn and to a lesser extent the New England "Mecca East" scenes. In the 1980s he played the percussion for Anthony Quinn in the Broadway production of "Zorba." In the twenty-first century the Sheik has conducted musicians and dancers on stage at an Atlantic Avenue festival in Brooklyn.

Born in Bagdad, Hakki Obadia was a child prodigy who won most of the badges of master musicianship by the age of ten. He founded and led the first symphony orchestra of Bagdad and conducted the symphony orchestra of the University of California, where he studied under Roger Sessions and Ernest Bloch. Considered a genius in both eastern and western music, Obadia mastered the violin, oud, piano, guitar, and mandolin. Besides teaching music and performing, he accompanied Mohammed El-Bakkar throughout the latter's career. In 1953 he met Eddie Kochak, beginning a long, subsequent collaboration of recording.

Violinist (and oudist/pianist) Fred Elias was born in New Hampshire of Lebanese descent and attained a Master's degree from the Boston Conservatory of Music. (Many U.S. belly-dance performers hail from New England.) He performed before King Saud of Saudi Arabia, as lead violinist for the Ice Capades for half a decade, and at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Elias coordinated the best-selling Kochak-Obadia-Elias Strictly Belly Dancing series for the Scepter label. After making the first three volumes on Scepter, they formed their own Ameraba label, under which they not only issued subsequent volumes but also reissued the first three with different jackets. The Kochak group's relationship to various record labels (several of their own making) can only be described as nomadic, ever-shifting like sand in the desert.

Elias/Kochak/Obadia LPs

Fred Elias: Dance of the Pyramids
Fred Elias: Enchantment
8Fred Elias Ensemble w/John Tatassopoulos: Artistic Moods for Dance; Intrasonic IS-2002 (just 2 tunes, psychedelic improv!)
7Fred Elias Ensemble w/John Tatassopoulos: Artistic Moods for Dance Volume II; Intrasonic IS-2003
8Fred Elias Ensemble w/John Tatassopoulos: Artistic Moods for Dance Volume III; Intrasonic IS-2004
7Fred Elias & his Ensemble of Renown: Vina Presents Dynamic Belly-Dance Rhythms; [no label] 45-4406
8Ethnic Armenian Orchestra: Armenian Songs & Dances; Scepter/Mace M-10015/SM-10015 (Elias, Kochak, Obadia..)
8The Ethnic Turkish Orchestra: Road to Istanbul; Scepter/Mace M-10031/SM-10031 (Elias, Kochak, Obadia..)
9Eddie Kochak: Caravan of Amer-Abic Music; Big B Records 001 (possibly his first LP; full of rock, jazz, & Latin hybridization)
9Eddie "Sheik" Kochak & Hakki Obadia: Ameraba; Georgette G-621; 1962 ("Music of the Middle East Vol. 1"; their 1st LP collaboration; "Jazz in Port Said" has drum solo, "Ameraba Fantasy" slightly rock)
Eddie Kochak & Hakki Obadia: The Harem Dancers (wanted!)
8Eddie Kochak with Souren Baronian & their Middle Eastern Ensemble: Dreams from Middle East [volume 2]; Guirak GLPS-67 (electronic stereo)
7Eddie Kochak & his Middle Eastern Ensemble/Various: Middle Eastern Caravan--One Thousand Years Ago...; Guirak GLPS-76 (reissues in electronic stereo 5 cuts from the Big B LP and 2 longer versions of 2 from Guirak GLPS-67; plus 1 cut each by T.A. Ensemble of South America, Isaac Markarian, and a Steve Bogoshian group)
8Eddie "Sheik" Kochak, Hakki Obadia, & their Amer-Abic Orchestra: Ya Habibi!--Exciting New Sounds of the Middle East; Decca DL-74501
8Eddie Kochak & Hakki Obadia: One Night in a Harem; Scepter/Pricewise 4005; 1965 (jacket: "All Night in a Harem"; partly Mid-East jazz; reissues 5 of 10 cuts from Georgette LP Ameraba)
7Soubhi Kochak & Hakki Obadia Ensemble: Middle East Music--Moods of the Casbah; Scepter/Mace MCS-10011/(S)M-10011; 1965 (or as Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak & Hakki Obadia Orchestra; Mace stereo version may be mono; reissued in stereo as The Best of Middle East Music; Scepter/Citation CTN-18024; 1973)
7Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak & Hakki Obadia Orchestra: Arrac-Laham (Liqueur Araby), Mishwee (Shish Kebab), & Thou; Scepter/Mace (S)M-10004 (mainly reissues Georgette LP Ameraba)
8Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak, Fred Elias, & the El-Mecca Ensemble: Ya Salaam--The New Amer-Abic Sound of the Middle East; Scepter/Mace MCS-10039
7Middle East Ensemble (Hakki Obadia & Joseph Sugar): 10 Nights in a Harem; MGM SE-3857 (1st press titled in yellow, not red)
7Hakki Obadia, Master Musician, Plays Middle East Classics; Orient/Ash-Shark SLPO-142; 1969

Strictly Belly Dancing Series

6Strictly Belly Dancing--Ya Habibi #2; Scepter SPS-5114; 1973 (The 1st Volume; Ameraba AM-2498; 1977)
6Strictly Belly Dancing Vol. 2; Scepter SPS-5118; 1975 (The 2nd Volume; Ameraba AM-2499; 1977)
6Strictly Belly Dancing Vol. 3; Scepter SPS-5128; 1976 (The 3rd Volume; Ameraba AM-2500; 1977)
7Strictly Belly Dancing Vol. 4; Ameraba AM-2501; 1976
7Strictly Belly Dancing Vol. 5; Ameraba AM-2502; 1977
7Strictly Belly Dancing Vol. 6; Ameraba AM-2503; 1979
7The Best of Belly Dancing Vol. 1; Sheik EK-1351 (start of a new series)

Partly Kochak/Elias/Obadia LPs

8David Amram & Friends: At Home/Around the World; Flying Fish FF-094; 1980 (Latin jazz/Africa "Kwahare"/Mideast jazz "Aya Zehn"; Pepper Adams, Steve Berrios, George Mgrdichian, Hakki Obadia, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Candido, Odetta..)
7Djamal Aslan: Lebanon--Her Heart, Her Sounds; 20th Century Fox SFX-3001/FOX-3001 (w/Kochak/Obadia/Sugar..)
8Hanaan & her Ensemble: Music of Arabia; Request SRLP-8083 (w/Hakki Obadia..)
7Udi Joseph Kouyoumijian Orchestra featuring Fred Elias & his Ensemble with Esber Koprucu on Kanun: Beautiful Belly--Music for Listening & Dancing; Federated FR-1000; 1975
6George Michel et al: Takseem (Improvisation); Orient LPO-133; 1967 (short bio about & liner notes by Hakki Obadia)
8Buddy Sarkissian & his Mecca Four w/Fred Elias: Soul of the East; Cameo CS-1023 (abridged as Wyncote SW-9020)
8Buddy Sarkissian Presents Richard A. Hagopian: Kef Time Las Vegas; Saha 1001 (wanted!)
7Mike & Buddy Sarkissian w/Fred Elias: Armenian Fun Time; Standard-Colonial LP-839
9Mike & Buddy Sarkissian: Armenian Fun Time in Las Vegas; Standard/Colonial LP-845 (w/Fred Elias, Joe Kouyoumjian, Nock Kokoras, George Kokoras)
8The Sultan's Caravan: Belly Dance to Great Navel Music; RCA Victor AFL1-1820; 1976 (w/Hakki Obadia, Gus Vali)

Kochak/Elias/Obadia 45s

7Eddie Kochak: Shish-Ka-Bob Rock/No, No, You're Not for Me; Darl R-1007 (Mid-East rock/calypso)

Kochak/Elias/Obadia Books

Hakki Obadia Oud Method Book; Near East Music Associates, Inc.

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