Various Artists

Music Bazaar

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Music Bazaar is true to its name, as it resembles a sonic center market, full of disparate sounds, bright colors, and all manner of alluring, exotic smells. Over two discs, the collection (produced for the European market by BMG Italy) travels through numerous styles, but stays true to one constant: pop music. In one corner of the square is the boisterous, passionate rai of Khalèd and Cheb Mami, the king and prince of Algerian music, respectively. Across the way, Césaria Evora's morna style paints "Carnaval de São Vicente" with a mournful brush. Meanwhile, the evocative Spanish/Arabic pop mixture of Radio Tarifa wafts through the air, while the Italian pop group Almamegretta channel not only Arabic sounds, but also flavor their upbeat "Suddd" with dancehall-style vocals.

While collaborations with Western artists like Sting, Bill Laswell, or Marianne Faithful have helped many of these artists find real -- and deserved -- fame, collections like this can sometimes trivialize the music, and render it a cliché in and of itself. Fortunately, Music Bazaar doesn't get carried away with remixes or guest appearances, and lets the artists' music speak for itself, in a language we can all understand.

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