Various Artists

Edition Pierre Verger: Oriental Moods - From Marrakech to Cairo

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A nice set of North African music, Oriental Moods -- From Marrakech to Cairo includes pieces from Palestinian, Egyptian, Algerian, Moroccan, Kurdish, and Iranian artists -- at least a handful of whom are living abroad in Europe. The music is quite good throughout and though the performers might not be terribly big on the world music scene, they tend to be quite good at what they do. The album opens with a bit of relatively modern Egyptian belly dance from Hussein el Masry, followed by oud music from Palestine (where the oud isn't normally the instrument of choice) and another lute player, Temo, from somewhere among the Kurdish lands. The French-Algerian Habib Guerroumi sings a quiet folk song, and a group of Moroccans blasts out a massive dance on the local oboes and drums. The pattern is then repeated somewhat, with another belly dance from Hussein el Masry, a couple of more contemplative and classical pieces from Iranians Hassan Kassai and the Samani group (with a special emphasis on the ney), and a boisterous dance tune with oboes from Yemen closing out the album. The range is wide, though there are certainly gaping holes in the presented repertoires. Still, the album makes for a decent if overly brief introduction to a few of North Africa's sounds. Pick up some gnawa, some raiand something from Egypt besides belly dance to go along with it, and you'll be set.

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