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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

NORTH AFRICAN GROOVE

By James Rodgers
Published September 22, 2005

Putumayo

As a followup to the highly successful Arabic Groove, Putumayo has released North African Groove, focusing on the music of Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.  The 12 dance tracks focus on the two main types of music from this region, raï and al-jil, and the blending of those styles with electronica, trance, blues and club rhythms. What’s most interesting is how these artists are incorporating all of these influences and still maintaining the traditional feel of North African dance music. In fact, the consistent energy, celebration and hip-swiveling rhythms make this a must for those who enjoy world music with a beat. No decent raï collection would be complete without the king and prince of raï, respectively Khaled and Cheb Mami, and they are both represented with strong tracks. But North African Groove shows there are plenty of artists vying for those royal titles, including Faudel, Rhany and Cheb Jilani. A bonus with this release is that a portion of the proceeds goes to a charity working on finding peaceful solutions to conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere. Now, that’s musical unity.