Friday, October 16, 2015

CD Review: Aziz Sahmaoui & University Of Gnawa's 'Mazal'

Aziz Sahmaoui & University Of Gnawa
World Village

Morocco's Aziz Sahmaoui and his West African University Of Gnawa bring together sounds of the Sahara with sounds of the Western Coast of Africa on the latest release, Mazal. Aziz is a master on the n'goni, but plays the mandole and offers vocals. The Arabic vocals are expertly delivered in a pleasant manner that is never boring. Aziz is joined with other instruments, including the bass, flamenco guitar, sax, flute, tar, violin, daw daw, rhodes, kora, and percussion. The melodies are very intricate, ear-friendly, and entrancing in a very good way. The opener, "Inchallah," is a rousing tune with great instrumentation and vocals. "Mazal" is another good song that contains undulating rhythms of an Arabic and almost Middle Eastern nature that still retain a North or West African presence. "Jilala" is an upbeat dance tune with a contemporary edge of pure African spirit. Fans of North African music will love Aziz's playing style and all of the tracks on the album. Liner notes are in English, French, and Cyrillic Arabic. ~ Matthew Forss

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