Mixing north African and world music - Majid Bekkas, Khader Fahem Mimoun Rafroua and Atef
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For decades, musicians from the Arab world have been exploring genres far removed from their own heritage. World Tracks this week talks to four such artists who challenge the idea that their traditional music impinges on their crossover styles. They have been able to incorporate pop, soul, jazz and even flamenco in their creations.
Majid Bekkas is one of the most experienced composers in north Africa.
Since his exchanges in the 70s with fellow-Moroccan artists from the mythical groups like Nass El Ghiwan and Jil Jilala, the guitarist and singer has collaborated with musicians from the five continents. This includes an intriguing work with French multi-instrumentalist Titi Robin at the Timitar festival and Escales de Saint-Nazaire gathering last year.
Also invited to Agadir was the Berber star from the Rif mountains, Mimoun Rafroua. His electrifying use of a unusually powerful voice has made him something of a household name in the north of Morocco.
Since the 80s, he has perfected a style he calls Amazigh rock, after the Berbers's name for themselves. Rafoua’s move to the Netherlands allowed him to pursue an international career that shows no sign of abaiting.
Atef was part of the line-up proposed by jazz saxophonist Don Billiez at the Fez Jazz Festival.
The former Moroccan capital was also the setting for a memorable concert by guitar virtuoso Kader Fahem.
Like Atef, this musician of Kabylian origins grew up in southern France . He formed his first group, an amateur Roma flamenco band he called the Flamenco Kids, at the age of 12. His love for flamenco guitar has not left him, as can be testified by his latest opus, My Gypsy Way.
Here is Daniel Brown's choice of albums played on World Tracks this month:
1) World Massala, Terrakota (Ojo! Records), Angola/Portugal.
2) Asmara’s got soul, Asmara All Stars (Outhere), Eritrea/France.
3) Mahmoud Ahmed & Imperial Bodyguard Band 1972-74, Ethiopiques 26, Mahmoud Ahmed (Buda Musique), Ethiopia.
4) Hinterland, An Pierlé & White Velvet (PIAS), Belgium.
5) Live in Amsterdam, http://musicabrasileira.org/ceumar/cconcert.html ">Ceumar & Trio (Mendes-Coelho Productions)
6) Kwegne, Kareyce Fotso (Contre-Jour), Cameroon.
7) The Unlimiters, The Unlimiters (HScore Publishing), Germany.
8) Wolf Love, OMNIA (PaganScum Records), The Netherlands.
9) Helsinki-Shangri-La, Paleface (XO Records), Finland.
10) For the Next Generation, Maxxo (Echo Productions), France.