Completely original and coherent,
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This review is from: Maghreb And Friends (Audio CD)This is the first Nguyên Lê album I bought. I did so on a whim, although I had known for a while who he was, and I always appreciated his playing style.
Maghreb and Friends is a mixture (I purposely avoided the term "fusion") of Vietnamese, and, well, music from Maghreb. As far as I can tell, Maghrebi music is itself a mixture of Arabic and African music. I won't pretend to know if it's east or west African, or Lebanese instead of Egyptian. So basically, there are some songs that have an Arab feel, some have an African feel, and some have an Asian feel.
The really impressive thing is it works. The styles never clash, and none of the songs feel out of place. The different influences give each song its distinct identity, so the album doesn't feel like playing one song on repeat 9 times in a row. My favorite song is L'Arkha Li Jeya. I love how the kora starts the song off quietly, and it just gets louder and intense as the song goes.
Performances are excellent as usual, with special nods to Michel Alibo and Stefano Di Battista, who really leave their mark on the album. Highly recommended.