San Francisco (California), USA – The Rough Guide to the Music of Latin Arabia (RGNET1175CD) journeys to the little known but highly musical region of Latin-Arabia, located somewhere between Cairo and Havana. Here, it explores the long-standing influence of Latin music on the Arab world and similarly, the imprint of Arabic music on Latin America.
The connections run deep: from the Nubian sounds of ‘Mambo el Soudani’ by Salamat to the Spanish and North African music of Benjamín Escoriza, the voice of Radio Tarifa. The album includes collaborations between musicians from the two regions including Algeria’s Maurice El Medioni and Roberto Rodriguez as well as Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Flamenco legend Enrique Morente.
The Rough Guide to Latin Arabia fuses three of the most popular dance styles: belly dance, salsa and flamenco (including Flamenco rumba).
When the dueling violins of Alfredo de la Fé, from Cuba, and Salah Rahanny, from Morocco meet on the track, ‘Macondo’ it is no coincidence that the sounds are both contrasting and harmonious. The artists may have been brought up on different continents but they share in a musical tradition which dates back to the ninth century.
The 600 year-long Moorish control of the southern part of the Iberian peninsula brought many Arabic musical influences to Europe including the ‘ud, from which some scholars think the guitar is descended, as well as Berber drums and the theoretical approach to music from the Persian system. As Spain’s Christian rulers overthrew the Moorish empire in Andalusia in the 15th Century they also began the explorations which would lead to the development of a Spanish empire in the New World, ensuring that the Arabic influence was transported to Latin America.
The Moorish influence lived on in European music, perhaps most noticeably in the Andalusian flamenco style and the proximity of North Africa to Spain’s southern coast has made continued cross-pollination inevitable.
So, the music on The Rough Guide to Latin Arabia is not an exercise in ersatz fusion but a continuation of a musical conversation which has been going on for hundreds of years. Among the most well known tracks on the album are ‘Ya Nour El Ein’ (Light of My Eye) by Amr Diab and ‘Alabina’ by Ishtar & Los Niños De Sara. While these two have proved the massive appeal of Latin-Arabian music among the lesser-known tracks on the album there are plenty of hidden treasures.
The afore-mentioned ‘Macondo’ by Alfredo de la Fé is a fevered romp through Alfredo’s colorful musical influences. Maurice El Medioni creates an evocative blend of Cuban rhythms and Arabic-influenced melodies on ‘Oran Oran’.
On ‘Paquita La Guapa’, Radio Tarifa’s Benjamin Escoriza employs a cromorno (crumhorn), an oboe-like instrument from the Renaissance, echoing the sound of the Arabic shenai.
The flamenco sound is exposed to its North African vocal roots on Mahani-Zin by Emil Zrihan, an expert on Jewish folk traditions in the Middle East.
For the album’s conclusion, ‘Ah Ghanilek’, the CD revisits the massive pop potential of the Latin/Arabic crossover – an irresistible dancefloor hit from Reines De Saba which features Los Niños De Sara on backing vocals.
The album contains a data track that includes an interview with the compiler Nili Belkind. Nili specializes in world and Latin music, producing, marketing and developing artists.
Buy the CD:
- In North America: Rough Guide to the Music of Latin Arabia
- In Europe: Rough Guide to the Music of Latin-Arabia
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central