Various Artists

B'ismillah: Highlights From the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

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The second installment of albums dealing with recordings from the annual Fes Festival in Morocco clearly focuses on the Arab sector, with nine of the 12 tracks being Islamic in general, mostly Sufi, Berber, and various North African sects. The outliers here are the Radio and Television Symphony Orcestra of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Diego De Los Santos, a flamenco singer. The album begins with a symphonic call to prayer, followed by the music of the whirling dervishes of Damascus, chant from a similar sect in Morocco, and a Saharan group from Morocco. An Egyptian poet follows, followed by a pair of qawwalis. The second disc opens again with the Bosnian symphony orchestra, then moves into a pair of Moroccan instrumental bits for the oud. It then moves into an interesting piece of the flamenco repertoire with a saeta from Diego de los Santos. The saeta is the only form of flamenco used in the Catholic liturgy, a rarity given the gypsy, Muslim, and Jewish origins of flamenco. It then returns to Islam with some more Moroccan music and a khyal singer from Pakistan. Overall, the festival is surely a worthwhile event, but the music doesn't really represent the world of sacred music by any means. At the very least, buy the first installment (Hamdulillah) first, if not completely different compilations of sacred music.

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