Produced to accompany Volume 1 of the Rough Guide To World Music book (2nd edition), this selection of tracks sweeps across one half of the musical world, sampling a fascinating cross-section of styles from diverse cultures in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, with recordings old and new.
The proceedings begin in Senegal, with a wonderful number from the mighty Ismael Lô (whose image also graces the cover of the CD and book). Nothembi Mkhwebane offers up the Ndebele traditional music of South Africa, while Ethiopia is represented by the unique singing talent of Aster Aweke. A fine acoustic number from Zimbabwean superstar Oliver Mtukudzi is followed by ‘En Entre OK, On Sort KO’, the slogan tune of legendary Congolese group Franco & OK Jazz. A wonderful collaboration from American blues legend Taj Mahal with Malian kora maestro Toumani Diabate rounds up the African section in great style.
Paving the way into the Middle East, the Cairo-based group Salamat, led by Mahmoud Fadl, looks back to its Nubian roots with a unique brand of al jil music. Archival recordings from the Arab world include a classic song by Dahmane Elharrachi, the great Algerian chaabi singer from the 1950s and a 1920s recording from the Arab world’s greatest singer of all time, Oum Kaltsoum. The Israel-based Ziryab Trio, with line-up of oud, violin and percussion, present their interpretation of a track from the great Middle Eastern classical composer Riad Al-Sunbati. Also in Israel is the radical singer, Meira Asher, whose lyrics tackle controversial subjects that few artists dare approach, especially in the Middle East.
In Europe, sample the Sámi joik singing style of Wimme from Finland, traditional Gypsy music from the frenzied Romanian brass ensemble, Fanfare Ciocărlia, Portuguese fado from guitarist António Chainho with Marta Dias and a lively csárdás from Hungary’s great folk group Muzsikás. Finally, there’s a wonderful number from the Grande Dame of English Folk, Norma Waterson.
A varied and remarkable selection, each of the seventeen tracks provides a glimpse of this vast musical landscape.