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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Leigh Cline & Nikolas Michailidis

By Michael Stone
Published April 27, 2007

Al Asha Bi Daha: Traditional Songs of the Eastern Black Sea
Scimitar Records

Toronto native Leigh Cline (guitar, saz, tambura, synthesizers) began his career in Celtic music and North American folk and blues, and also worked as a concert producer and music magazine editor. A chance meeting with a pair of Greek gypsy musicians in the early 1970s widened Cline’s horizons, leading him to explore the music of Greece and Turkey, the Black Sea region and the Caucasus. Cline pairs with Greek counterpart Nikolas Michailidis (vocals, three-stringed pontic lyra, davul or double-skinned frame drum) in a sonic essay of traditional dances from the Turkey-Georgia frontier. The lyra is the focal instrument on this recording, and Cline, who moved to northern Greece in the mid-1970s to apprentice with regional tradition bearers, is at home in music whose unusual rhythms and modal, non-harmonic quality pose a challenge to guitarists exclusively schooled in North American folk idioms. The result is a unique blend of disparate traditions.