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Album Review

No one can accuse Nass Marrakech of not being adventurous. Blending the raw gnawa sounds of the Maghreb with the Cuban piano of Omar Sosa and the flute and saxophone work of Jorge Prado is risky — the styles and instruments aren't a natural match, by any means. And, to be fair, the greatest magic comes when it's just the band, as on "L'Ham." But Sosa, more even than Prado, insinuates himself into things, becoming a part of the whole on tracks like the lengthy, traditional "Hamdushi II" or "Benya L'Ejwan," rather than sounding like an adjunct as Prado occasionally does. With the growling sentir as the base of their sound, Nass Marrakech plays the trance music of the gnawa wonderfully, building and receding like waves, the percussion pushing it further along. At times there's also a poignancy about the sound, as on "Mash Q'Mani," where a simple voice and sentir are almost elegiac. As much as this is about crossing bridges, though, the traffic seems to be mostly one-way, with Sosa and Prado crossing the Atlantic to land in North Africa. It might not always be brilliant, but every second is definitely fascinating.

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Bouderbala, Nass Marrakech
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