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The Rough Guide to Marrabenta Mozambique
(World Music Network, 2001)

This CD explores the wold of marrabenta, music with its roots in southern Mozambique. Marrabenta is rhythmic dance music intended to express joy and celebration and was, in fact, considered dangerous by the colonial Portuguese authorities. It is music with a strong grounding in tradition, and like its musical counterparts around the world, marrabenta performers range from the "grand old men" to new young musicians.

The music on this Rough Guide has a steady repetitive rhythm, but that's about where the similarity ends. Each musician represented here puts his or her own spin on the music, resulting in a textured musical tapestry. There's plenty of contrast, such as that between the laid back "Maria Teresa" from Dilon Djindji, marrabenta's grandest old man, and the heartfelt "Africa" from Nene, the youngest artist represented on the album.

Wazimo is one of the most popular marrabenta singers, and he appears as the lead singer of the now disbanded orchestra Marrabenta de Moćambique with the lively "Matilde," as well as solo with the complex and musically sophisticated "Xigevengu." Mabulu, featuring a mix of older and younger artists, has rap-like elements in "Mahanhela" while Eyuphono's "Othiawene" had sunny overtones of Caribbean music. The rest of the tracks provide their own unique variations on the theme.

While borrowing from other musical traditions, marrabenta has at its core the heart, soul and roots of Mozambique. Curious? Catch a copy of The Rough Guide to Marrabenta Mozambique.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 8 September 2001

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