Throughout the southern coast of Spain one can easily listen to popular North African music by tuning numerous Moroccan and Algerian radio stations across the strait of Gibraltar. Tarifa is the southernmost town in Europe from which you can see the African continent on any clear day and listen to the Moroccan muezzins at sundown calling for prayer.
Radio Tarifa was the brainchild of Faín Dueñas, a former electric guitarist who realized that playing Anglo-Saxon rock wasn’t leading him anywhere. Instead he sought new paths and learned about other kinds of music from foreign and southern Spanish musicians. He became a specialist in African and Arabic percussion as well as in string instruments from the lute family such as the Turkish cümbüs, the guimbri, sentir, ud and Flamenco guitar.
The rest of the core group was formed by the late Flamenco cantaor Benjamín Escoriza from Granada and reed/flute player Vincent Molino from France. The group’s albums feature numerous guests and the live band included some of Spain’s finest world music players.
Spanish folk and world music veteran, producer, painter and photographer Juan Alberto Arteche produced the group’s first album, Rumba Argelina (Algerian rumba) for his eclectic Música Sín Fín label. Arteche later sold the rights to BMG Spain who in turn licensed it to World Circuit in Great Britain.
Rumba Argelina was an international success thanks to its lively pieces with a Medieval Spanish, North African and Flamenco feeling to it. The reeds heard on the album are not a Middle Eastern instrument but a Renaissance crumhorn played by Vincent Molino. Flamenco cantaor Benjamín Escoriza, from Granada, provided the Andalusian flavor while Faín Dueñas used atypical instruments such as the Gnawan guimbri (a string instrument), the North African darbuka drum and the Turkish tar frame drum.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. 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.