This Canadian nine-piece take on the music of several different Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures in this disc, which might be problematic, except for the fact that they don't try to be strictly authentic; it's always refracted through their personal prism. And so they can be very credible on their version of the Greek "Elli" or the Nubian "Leli We Ya La," and still wander through a metaphysical Spain or Turkey with equal resonance -- it's as much in the inspiration as the execution. Curiously enough, for all the emphasis on songs here, Maza Mezé sound best on the instrumentals, particularly "Twist," by John Gzowski, which wears its Middle Eastern colors very strongly. They're all strong, adaptable players, and all obviously quite knowledgeable about the varying traditions, which puts them ahead of many other bands. In fact, about the only place where the disc falters is in the production, which is rather thin and cold, so that the pieces don't always seem to come together fully. But as a beginning it's good, with plenty of promise for the future.
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