Mohamed Khaznadji

Algerian Cana'a

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This disc is the second volume of Ocora's Anthology of Arab-Andalusian Music of Algeria. It offers a suite of instrumental music with some vocal sections in the Ghrib mode. The ensemble consists of two Tunisian guitars (actually more like lutes), the mandolin, the viola, the kanun (a kind of hammer dulcimer), oud, ney (Arabic flute), and percussion. The suite mixes slower and faster sections in a manner calculated to build drama and hold the interest.

This style of music was developed in the Casbahs of Algeria as a collaboration between Arabic and Jewish musicians and singers. The music is just what you might expect from the Maghreb: "exotic," majestic, rhythmic. Vocalist Khaznadji comes from a family of Koran readers, which one can hear in his soft, quavering, almost chant-like singing. All the elements meld into a pleasing organic whole, climaxing in fast-paced movement for instruments and chorus. Those enthusiastic about non-Westernized Arabic orchestral music need not hesitate.