The Sounds of North Africa and Beyond

Eduardo Paniagua, David Mayoral and Serguei Sapricheff - Latidos de Al-Andalus - Beats of Al-Andalus
Eduardo Paniagua, David Mayoral and Serguei Sapricheff – Latidos de Al-Andalus – Beats of Al-Andalus

The rhythms and melodies of ancient Al-Andalus (Moorish Spain) are present in Latidos de Al-Andalus – Beats of Al-Andalus (Pneuma, 2005) by Eduardo Paniagua, David Mayoral and Serguei Sapricheff. The three virtuoso percussionists from Spain and Russia play an extensive collection of percussion instruments from northern Africa, the Arab world and Spain. Some of these instruments include frame drums, goblet drums and clay pots. The CD comes with detailed liner notes in English and Spanish.

Tunisian ‘ud player Anouar Brahem’s music is always hard to classify. He flirts with western classical music, Euro jazz, and classical Arabic. On his latest CD, Le Voyage de Sahar (ECM, 2006), he collaborates with pianist Francois Coutourier and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier. Several of the pieces follow the characteristic ECM chamber jazz style, bordering on classical music. The world music influences are subtle. At times French, at others he drifts towards Arabic music, and then he intimately explores Spanish influences.

On Arabic Songs from North Africa (ARC EUCD 1993, 2006) Chalf Hassan introduces the listener to Moroccan call and response singing. the vocals are accompanied by a hypnotic rhythm section (including clapping), ‘ud and violins. All songs are traditional, with themes that range from love and praise songs to folk dances.

Cantos tradicionales de mujeres del norte de Marruecos – Traditional Women’s Songs from northern Morocco (Peuma, 2004) is performed by the Cantoras de Tetuán (Female Singers of Tetuan) from Morocco. The vocal group, integrated by women, is accompanied by a traditional Arabic orchestra composed primarily of men. The repertory performed by the Female Singers of Tetuan includes classical Arabic and traditional songs from northern Morocco. The bilingual booklet (English and Spanish) explains in depth all the different styles of music featured in the album.

For a worldbeat approach to Arabic sounds, Richard Khuzami has recorded a great CD. Fused (Dahdoo Records, 2006)combines spectacular percussive fireworks with electronica and a myriad of global sounds, ranging from reggaetón to Greek and Flamenco. Khuzami is accompanied by the great Turkish master Omar Faruk Tekbilek, reggaetón artists, Greek musicians and American instrumentalists. If you are into cross-cultural collaborations, don’t miss this CD.

Some Mexican artists have been interested in investigating the Spanish roots of Mexican music. On Las Tres Orillas del Atlántico, the artists explore the connections between the musics from three shores of the Atlantic: Morocco, Spain and Mexico. In true mestizo fashion, the Mexican and Moroccan musicians show how Spanish fandango is connected with the Mexican son jarocho and how Flamenco and Arabic Taraf may have common roots. The album features Arabic ‘ud, guitars, jarana and vihuela, as well as an assortment of percussion. The CD is not available from the usual sources. More info at:

L’ensemble Aromates, from France, has recorded Jardin des Myrtes, based on Arab-Andalusian melodies. The group plays primarily classical instruments, but they also use North African and Middl,e Eastermn percussion and they are accompanied by an Iranian ney player and several other guests playing percussion and Baroque era instruments. The charming result is Early Music ensemble meets Medieval Andalusian sounds.

Mo’Rockin is a US-based band led by a Moroccan electric violinist. On One World the group combines North African styles like Rai and shaabi with rock and pop. A lot of the group’s work takes place in Orlando at Disneyworld and that has limited its exposure to broader world music circles.

The Sahara desert serves as a barrier, but also as a land where cultures meet and mingle. The album Deserts focuses on field recordings taken at various deserts of the world, from the Sahara to the Gobi.

On the album Aire de Al-Andalus (The Air of Al-Andalus), Spanish virtuoso Eduardo Paniagua got together several wind instrumentalists to play the whispered Medieval musics of Spain, Persia and Arabia. The flautists are from Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Syria and Iran and play instruments from the nay family.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.