Rabita Andalusa
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Rabita Andalusa
Naxos World (www.naxosworld.com)

cd cover With the systematic expulsion of Islamic culture from Spain largely completed by the end of the 15th century, many aspects of it began to settle into north Africa. Not the least of these were the musical forms and structures pioneered by a master musician known as Zyriab who had settled in Andalusia after leaving Baghdad (once an unequaled center of learning) hundreds of years earlier. This Andalusian/Maghrebi musical heritage had developed a complexity gleaned from Arabic poetry and chanting, Greek and Roman diatonic scales and Judeo-Christian influences, though theories range widely as to what exactly resulted from what. Among the principal Andalusian/Maghrebi forms was the nuba, a style of organizing musical movements into suites that deftly alternate vocal and instrumental passages. Within the mystical Sufi sect of Islam, the nuba concept carries over into diwan, a presentation of devotional music that moves seamlessly from part to part. Rabita Andalusa are a Morocco-based ensemble who present the dual traditions of nuba and diwan in all their structured but stirring magnificence. Their Arabesque tapestry of string (oud, qanun, rebab, kamanja) and percussion (tar, derbuka) instruments combine to form a cascading wall of sound that characterizes the stately music of the nuba tradition while alternating and overlapping voices ride the crystal backing with an unstrained intensity meant to recall the free-form poetry of the ancients as much as the popular music of Morocco. This cd (recorded live in Bologna, Italy) is beautifully hypnotic from start to finish. Considering that the music stems from elements that are multifaceted historically as well as creatively, it comes across with an affable ease that does not undermine the expertise of those performing it. - Tom Orr

Available from cdroots

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