Making music has been a form of prayer for Omar Faruk Tekbilek since he was 12, as you hear in every note he plays on the ney, or any other of the many instrument he masters. Born in an Egyptian-Turkish family, the young artist first learned to play the kaval from his brother, to get further training on the baglama while serving as an apprentice in an instrument shop. He developed into a sought-for musician while still young in Istanbul, but life had a different path for him in store: he followed his future wife to the US, where jobs for a musician of his ilk were hard to come by. Producer Brian Kean noted Tekbilek’s talent many years after he’d worked in an apparel chain. Concerts and recordings followed the fortunate discovery, Tekbilek played with such artists as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ofra Haza, Simon Shahid, Don Cherry, Jai Uttal and Ginger Baker. His music has traditional Turkish, Middle-Eastern and arabesque elements, but most striking is Tekbilek’s presence and humble joy playing music, capturing his audience without exception.