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World Music CD Reviews Africa


By Tom Orr
Published August 27, 2005

CBC Records/Les disques

Tarig Abubakar emigrated from Sudan to Canada in 1988, determined to heat up the sometimes chilly environs of his adopted homeland with African music. Live is indeed a hot example of his success. Some tracks were recorded at a Toronto club in the dead of winter in 1995, the rest at a summer festival two years later, and all showcase Abubakar and his multinational band playing rootsy Afropop with swinging expertise. Fluid guitars and deft horns give the songs the uptempo punch of soukous and highlife, subtler Arabic and Ethiopian textures add strength and one positively pulsating reggae number shouts out to the greater diaspora. Though not technically a great singer, Abubakar’s engagingly unencumbered vocals start the party or capture the plaintive tone of a song like the anti-war lament “Mama Tell Me Why” accordingly. Above all, his passion for, and commitment to, the music shine through. Abubakar’s 1998 death in a Khartoum car crash was a great loss, but there is comfort in this wonderful CD and the thought of all the other frontiers he might have brought his music to.