Ale Möller Band - Djef Djel
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Ale Möller Band
Djef Djel
Amigo Musik

Swedish bouzouki player Ale Möller has been a musical voyager since the '70s, when he began studying bouzouki at its source, in Greece. This release is an ecstatic mix of Swedish dance music, Greek rebetiko, and Senegalese traditional song. With dynamic Greek singer Maria Stellas and Senegalese singer and dancer Mamadou Sene figuring prominently in the proceedings, the music is all over the map. There's surprisingly little in the way of cultural clash on the CD, with most of the segues being pretty seamless. What there is, however, is a lack of center. The individual elements are brilliantly performed and arranged, but the listener is often left with a sense of directionlessness. The best way to approach it is with no expectations, as one might listen to a "world music" compilation.

Möller and crew carom wildly from the dusky exoticism of the Greek traditional song "Yati" to the earthy "Riti" a Sene composition using the one-stringed fiddle of the title. The effect can be jarring at times. That said, some of the most interesting and satisfying moments are medleys that move from Swedish to Greek to Senegalese sounds. These often have a cohesive flow and a nice build to them. The medley "Zenith," for example, starts with the Arabic-tinged "Ali Mullah (which gets its title from Möller's Arabic nickname)," moves into the Möller-Sene collaboration "Zenith," then goes into the Jiannis Dragatsis composition "Kamomatou" before circling back to the beginning. The whole thing has an epic quality to it. Djef Djel is a grand experiment that for the most part pays off. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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