Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim - Ceasefire
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cd cover Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim
World Music Network (www.worldmusic.net)

This collaboration is at least as remarkable for its back story as it is for its music. Jal, a former child soldier from southern Sudan is a young Christian rapper. Salim is a seasoned oud master from the north of Sudan and a Muslim. Jal was abducted at the age of 7 by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and forced to train as a soldier. By the age of 9, he was fighting in battles. He escaped with the help of a British aid worker and was able to finish his education in London and Nairobi. He began singing in 1998 and released a solo album, Gua, in 2004. He is currently living in Nairobi.

Salim has been composing and playing music for over three decades. He has had his own struggles as a result of the civil war in Sudan. In 1994, a religious extremist entered a club in which he was playing with singer Hussein Khogali and stabbed several people, killing Khogali and seriously wounding Salim.

The miracle is that the two have put aside deep-seated religious and cultural differences and have created this joyous collaboration. Jal raps in English, Arabic, Kiswahil, and Nuer over popping percussion and a rich choral background. His rapping is fluid and low-key, but with a restless intensity. The title track from Gua appears on the disc and it is an irresistible dance track with an upbeat, hopeful message. Salim's strong, open vocals and rippling oud technique have a grounding effect on the disc, giving it a sense of connectivity with history. His bluesy solo on "Baai" is the perfect foil to the woody percussion underneath.

The artists' sense of positive optimism simply bubbles out of the speakers. Would that all of Sudan's troubles could be resolved with the spin of a disc. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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