Omar el Maghribi
Modal Pleinjeu / France

Some of the CDs coming from North African musicians seemed destined for the pop or world music bins -somewhat contrived & hoping to profit from current trends. Others seem to dip a little deeper from the well and are more to my liking. Omar el Maghribi grew up in southern Morocco near Agadir and with Blaadi (My Country) he captures some of the more basic moods of North Africa, a little raw musically, yet refreshing to hear.

Much of the pop music on the Arabic radio dial is a little too sappy for my taste and perhaps that's why Maghribi is so satisfying. He captures moods; the end of a love affair ("Bia oula bik l'houa"); a tribute to his parents ("El walidin"); an immigrant living in foreign lands ("Paris Paris," "Blaadi"). A wonderful "Aid Miladek", a birthday song composed for the late King Hassan II conveys feeling for the recently departed monarch.

Frequently I complain about albums lacking in liner notes: they just don't tell me enough about the artists to assess the material. Sometimes though, it's just as well. Here Omar el Maghribi (chant, oud', and percussion), Mariam Tribak (chant), and Shafik Khelifati (violin) let Blaadi speak its own message. - Richard Dorsett

(MODAL Pleinjeu, La Falourdiere, 79380 St. Jouin-de-Milly, France)

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