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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Various Artists

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published March 13, 2007

The Rough Guide To The Music Of Tanzania
World Music Network 1158


Tanzania has a rich and diverse musical culture, but the country hasn’t produced very many star performers well-known outside the region—and the few possible exceptions, such as Remmy Ongala and Orchestre Makassy, aren’t represented on this set. Compiler Werner Graebner, an expert on Tanzanian music, has chosen instead to concentrate on the current scene, which he divides into four categories. One such category is the new generation, or bongo flava (new youth music), which encompasses dance bands, a group called X-Plastaz performing hip-hop in Swahili, and Saida Karoli, a young woman with an endearing voice that instantly grabs the listener’s attention. Other categories include large dance ensembles, coastal taarab music (which has strong ties to Arabic and Indian musics), and crossover styles that combine tradition and innovation. Graebner’s chosen to showcase variety as much as quality, which is exactly what one looks for in such a compilation.