Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Mediterranean Cafe Music

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The Mediterranean is a big place, a meeting of several cultures from North Africa and Southern Europe. Over the course of centuries there's been a great intermingling of ideas and cultures in every field, not least musically, and this compilation explores those connections, perfectly embodied on the Spanish/French/Algerian mélange of Barrio Chino, whose Andalusian "Guadalquivir" is light and airy. There's an understandable warmth to much of the material, whether it's Javier Rubal's flamenco-inflected "Perla de la Medina" or Andrea Parodi's lovely, gentle "Astrolicamus" from Sardinia. There's an Arabic root to many of the pieces, given the Arab domination of the region centuries before, diluted through various regional traditions, like the jazzy swing of France's Romane, bringing in gypsy traditions, and the soulful rebetika of Greece's Eleftheria Arvanataki, or the popular je'el sound of Egypt's heartthrob, Amr Diab. It all goes to prove that everywhere meets everywhere in the sunshine and blue waters of the Mediterranean.

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