''Eddie is probably best known for developing his unique "Amerabic" sound along with violinist and composer Hakki Obadia from Baghdad, Iraq. Together they modified authentic Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms to make them more palatable to the American ear.''

'Mid-East/Mid-East jazz; leads the field in music/musicianship, and it's the first, early Kochak on a major label in hi-fi (top sound sound production, and not reissued); astounding, hall-of-fame jacket features the two principles (each wearing a fez) flanking gorgeous belly dancer Adriana (still performing in Washington, DC last I heard); like most of their early LPs, very hard to find!'

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.

Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak

Possibly one of the best known Middle Eastern entertainers in this country, Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak, musician, singer, composer, band leader, comedian, and talent agent, was born in the Arabic section of Brooklyn as Eddie Soubhi (Ibn Farjallah) Kochakji. He was the youngest of six children and his father owned the first coffee house on Atlantic Avenue near Court Street. "Our house was a party seven days a week," says Eddie. As a child he used to beat on the pots and pans in his mother's kitchen until finally, at around the age of ten, he was given his first derbeki. He started playing at all the neighborhood functions and later went on to study percussion for eight years under Henry Adler.

Eddie always had problems with his name. In Junior High School the children would often tease him, calling him "Soupy" instead of Soubhi, which means "morning brightness" in Arabic. But it was in the army in 1942 that his sergeant gave him his well-known nickname. "No way can I get your names right," he said. "From now on you're 'Eddie the Sheik.'" The nickname stuck through infantry and Special Services in Italy, Egypt, and Greece. After the army Eddie toured with the USO, where he learned to love the music and dance of Syria, Lebanon, and the Middle East.

Eddie has often been credited with reviving the Debke, a folk dance of the Middle East. He played these Debkes at various affairs, and Arab-Americans would demonstrate the different versions of their native village or town. Eddie's skillful playing lead him to Broadway where he played "Zorba the Greek" with Anthony Quinn for three years, then toured for two more. He has also performed in concerts at Lincoln and Town Hall, and in appearances on the City of Hope Telethons with Dean Martin and Danny Thomas. However, Eddie is probably best known for developing his unique "Amerabic" sound along with violinist and composer Hakki Obadia from Baghdad, Iraq. Together they modified authentic Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms to make them more palatable to the American ear. It is this sound that dominates his "Strictly Ya Habibi Belly Dancing" cassettes.

Current activities include an annual Brooklyn festival, the Atlantic Antic, which features Eddie and his Ameraba Band on a stage near Court Street. Also, in addition to his musical abilities, Eddie is the Middle East Representative of the Musician's Union Local No. 802 in New York City, in charge of the Arabic, Israeli, Greek, Armenian and Persian sectors. "Somehow, when they come to this country, they get my name and they know I will help them." And the list of dancers and musicians he has helped is long. The list includes Hakki Obadia, Mazin Hamdan, Charles Hallal, Ibrahim Farrah, Jemela Omar, and Soraya Melik, just to name a few.

With his great sensitivity to dancers and their musical requirements, it is easy to see why Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak is in such great demand, both for personal appearances as well as through his recordings. His quick wit, showmanship and musical talents guarantee an enjoyable time for all.

A1 Ya Habibi 2:25
A2 Ripples Of The Nile 3:36
A3 Flowers Of Beirut 2:26
A4 Village Feast 2:59
A5 Camel Hop 2:37
A6 Mediterranean Fantasy 2:49
B1 Dance Of The Happy Bride 2:43
B2 Happy Jordan 2:24
B3 Red Sea Blues 1:57
B4 Desert Wanderers 3:38
B5 Gardens Of Baghdad 2:56
B6 Moroccan Delight 2:59

Arranged By, Adapted By – Kochak (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B4), Obadia (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B4)
Written-By – Kochak, Obadia