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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Tarik & Julia Banzi

By Michael Stone
Published March 20, 2007

Alchemy
Al-Andalus Productions

SPAIN

The music of Moorish Andalusia (al-Andalus, 711-1492 A.D.) lends itself to multiple musical and historical interpretations, on one hand because there obviously are no period recordings, on the other because the utopian vision of an Islamic regime where tolerance for Jewish (i.e., Ladino or Sephardic) and Christian believers runs so contrary to our own contemporary global predicament. Musically this need not be problematic, so long as interpreters are careful not to overreach in claiming “authenticity,” and to eschew the romantic flights of fancy that the genre seems to elicit among the quixotically, gushingly susceptible. Tarik Banzi plays oud against Julia Banzi’s acoustic guitar, interpreting Arab-Andalusian, Ladino, medieval Spanish and flamenco pieces, together with several Banzi compositions, some set with lyrics by García Lorca. Well received internationally, the Banzis’ “Contemporary Andalusian” alchemical mélange may be less compelling for equally accomplished early music practitioners immune to the New Age pretensions manifest here.