A native of Marrakech, Morocco who moved to New York in 1986, Hassan Hakmoun has made a name for himself embracing Moroccan "gnawa" -- a form that is similar to the music of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and other Middle Eastern and African countries, yet has its own personality. On Life Around the World, Hakmoun shows that his singing can be simultaneously passionate and hypnotic and consistently demonstrates his mastery of the sintir (a long-necked lute that is prominent in Mococcan culture). Highly rhythmic, songs like "Allah," "Chabakouni 1" and "Danya Balmat" emphasize hypnotic chanting and call-and-response techniques and have a strongly spiritual orientation. Hakmoun obviously loves improvisation and spontaneity, which is one of the main reasons he's attracted the attention of jazz artists like singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and the late Don Cherry (who is heard on the opener "Live" playing the melodica instead of his usual trumpet). Though some western elements asserts themselves on Hakmoun's songs, his overall approach is rootsy instead of poppish on this absorbing CD.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson