Begona Olavide


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"Mudejar" is an old Spanish term for Moslems who did not convert to Christianity. Before, during, and after the reconquest of Spain, Moslems, Christians, and Jews collaborated -- no doubt uneasily at times -- on works of culture, most notably architecture and music. Begona Olavide is exploring old Spanish music with a team of musicians as comfortable on the Arabic quanun as on the European salterio, as conversant on the Middle Eastern oud as on the Spanish vihuela. Others have covered this ground too, notably the group Radio Tarifa and the Gypsy flamenco singer el Lebrijano. Olavide seems to be taking a "scholarly" approach: The recording is recessed, the performances are mannered, the drums never slip the leash (except when percussionist Pedro Estevan is given a seriously out of place drum solo track). Notable is "Pavana Espanola," a familiar tune to fans of traditional Spanish music, and the album's longest track, "Tres Morillas," which sets up some hypnotizing (if somewhat languid) riffs and rhythms. "Con Que la Lavare" is a beautiful sad song that features Olavide's attractive alto. Recommended more for classical buffs than for world music aficionados.

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