The Sudan is a place in which singers and instrumentalists are known for their very organic mixture of Middle Eastern and African elements. This is true of a contemporary Sudanese pop singer like the jazz-influenced Rasha, and it is also true of a Sudanese traditionalist such as Mustafa al Sunni. Although al Sunni wasn't born until 1964 and was only in his early 30s when Songs of the Sudan was recorded in 1997, this CD contains none of the electric pop sounds of his generation. Very traditional in its outlook, Songs of the Sudan finds the charismatic singer/oud player forming a duo with percussionist Abd al Hafiz Karar and sticking to an acoustic setting. Lovers of Middle Eastern music will instantly recognize the string instrument that al Sunni plays as the oud, an Arabic lute. But al Sunni does not play the oud exactly as it is played in Saudi Arabia, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries--haunting, hypnotic selections like "Ghaltan Ana," "Hubbi al Razin" and "Ya Habibi Jafayt" point to the fact that Sudanese music has a very recognizable personality of its own. Released in England on the Nimbus label, Songs of the Sudan offers comprehensive liner notes and English translations of the lyrics.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson