Abed Azrié

Suerte Live

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The last few years have seen many attempts at Spanish-Arabic or other pan-Mediterranean fusions. Radio Tarifa, Juan Peña Lebrijano, and Mammas all stand out as winners, even though they differ in how much they integrate their elements. Suerte Live is somewhat low on the integration scale, but it still succeeds as a thoughtful conjunction of cultures. The fusion here includes Arabic and Spanish singers, and Arabic, Spanish, and French instrumental ensembles. Unlike the usual pan-Mediterranean groups, this one is directed by an Arab rather than a European. Abed Azrié has a husky baritone voice that nicely contrasts with Serge Guirao's sweeter Spanish tenor. A typical pattern for a song would be to bring out the commonalties between flamenco and North African music -- the percussion, the long, dramatic phrases -- and then to cover these with a dusting of French classicism and melancholy. Sometimes, as on "Semaï por Buleria," the elements remain largely unfused: we start with an Arabic prelude followed by a flamenco interlude succeeded by a French accordion melody, etc. At other times, as on "Sabio Amigo," the elements, although distinguishable, come together to make a new style -- one more classical than pop. Suerte Live may be more of a salad than a melting pot, but it certainly is a tasty one.

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