Radio Tarifa - Fiebre
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Radio Tarifa
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If you go as far south as you possibly can in Spain, you'll find yourself so close to the northern tip of Africa that by pricking up your ears you'll hear muezzins over in Morocco calling the faithful to prayer. That southernmost point is named Tarifa, and like the rest of Spain, it has been a crossroads of cultural, religious and artistic influences for more than a thousand years. Spanish band Radio Tarifa began casually a decade ago when core mambers Fain Duenas (multi-instrumentalist and arranger), Benjamin Escoriza (vocalist and lyricist) and Vincent Molino (wind and reed man) decided to make a recording based on a shared love for flamenco, Arabic music, medieval songs and texts, African rhythms and any number of gray areas in between. Their initial release, Rumba Argelina, did exactly what its creators wanted, it conveyed what the music of a radio station in Tarifa would have to sound like in order to reflect all the music that has passed through the region over the centuries. Global music listeners were entranced by the band's seamless combination of ancient and modern, leading subsequent releases Temporal and Cruzando el Rio to toy with the sound even more, bridging gaps between electric and acoustic textures and culturally different but sonically similar instruments, all with an expertise that made their taking of liberties not only justified but brilliant.

Over the course of their first ten years, Radio Tarifa have honed their stage chops just as much as their studio ones, making Fiebre ("Fever") a live album that will indeed crank up your body temperature a few degrees. Radio Tarifa's main trio are in top form, with Duenas laying down crackling percussion, Molino both wild and wistful on ney, crumhorn and oboe and the poetic macho of Escoriza's vocals hitting all the right notes in all respects. Further players provide more reeds and percussion along with oud, guitar and bass, resulting in a talented bunch who can go from Marrakech jam band to medieval minstrels in the blink of an eye. Choice songs from Radio Tarifa's previous collections and a couple of new ones are served burning hot, and if some of the majestic lilt of the studio stuff is scaled back, the replacement raw passion more than compensates. The Toronto crowd that this was mainly recorded in front of enthusiastically adds to the proceedings, so that by the time they roll out the sultry "Oye China," you're past wishing you were there and just glad to have this disc in your possession. - Tom Orr

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