Chalf Hassan
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Chalf Hassan
Rhythms of Morocco
ARC Music (

Chalf Hassan's skills as an oud player and percussionist have taken him well beyond his Moroccan homeland, but as the simplistic title of this disc suggests, home is where his heart is. Taking into account how much Moroccan music has been influened by the rest of the Arabic world (and vice versa) as well as Morocco's ongoing musical give-and-take with places like Spain, Rhythms of Morocco is a pretty good slice of North African sounds. The tracks are entirely instrumental save for a few distant vocal embellishments, celebrating themes of love, spirituality and musical kinship with considerable emphasis on percussion and strings. The 73 minutes aren't perfectly paced (the 12-minute track that's all drums could have used some trimming while evocative pieces like "Andalussia" could afford to go on longer) and the balance of traditional sounds with contemporary production comes across discordantly here and there. But there are enough stirring moments to make it noteworthy, and fans of Egyptian orchestral music, raqs sharki and gnawa trance will get a goodly amount of pleasure from it. - Tom Orr

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