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Soothing and sultry rhythms buoyed by modal, Eastern grooves

Malika Zarra's debut release, On the Ebony Road, digs deep into jazz idioms, but the Morrocan-born Zarra still conveys a strong sense of her North African roots through the vocals and arrangements. The instrumentation is simple: guitar, bass, drums, and percussion (including dumbek and cajon). Percussionist Brahim Fribgane also adds oud on some tracks. All this is support for Zarra's slinky vocals, which weave in and out of the music, her voice another instrument rather than something bobbing atop them like a cork on water. After hearing Zarra's strong contribution to Richard Khuzami's recent album Fused, it's a delight to hear her immersed in her own musical atmosphere. Fans of Susheela Raman and Natacha Atlas, or those looking for something like them but leaning a bit more toward jazz, should be sure to check out this strong debut. Troy Collins

SOUNDROOTS – World Music ...Malika Zarra’s “On the Ebony Road”. This Moroccan lass honed her craft at home in North Africa, in Paris, and continues to do so in New Jersey, USA, where she currently resides. Zarra’s mixture of native Berber and English tunes, and a sultry, seductive jazz-influenced delivery puts her in a unique category. It’s a very impressive CD and should place her in a good position for further “world-jazz” adventures. Tunes such as ‘Run’, ‘Joky Heart’, ‘Mchina’ also bring out the talents of drummer Harvey Wirht and oud player Brahim Fribgane... John Stevenson - Ejazz ...Zarra is captivating, with a soft voice and a hushed style of scat-singing that makes her sound as if she is casting spells... Sanjoy Roy - The Guardian ... Vocalist Malika Zarra’s rich, sonorous tones and lithe musicality... Lyndsey Winship - The Stage Acabo de descubrir a la cantante marroquí Malika Zarra. Lo que más me ha impresionado es la fusión de instrumentos como el oud y las percusiones tradicionales del magreb con la batería y el bajo, a la vez que su extraordinaria técnica vocal sobrevuela los temas incluidos en su nuevo álbum On the ebony road. Además Malika se rodea de excelentes músicos; Mamadou Ba (bajo) y Brahim Fribgane (oud, darbuka, percusiones y arreglos); Francis Jacob (guitarra acústica y eléctrica) ; Harvey Wirth (batería) Canta en francés, inglés y su natal árabe marroquí, a la vez que dibuja su canto sobre el Bereber y los sonidos y los ritmos de Gnawa que ella oyó de niña como inmigrante en los suburbios de París. Malika se revela como una cantante y compositora que puede estar dentro de la élite de las músicas del mundo y del jazz. Habrá que seguir su carrera muy atentamente. Jorge Rodríguez – Crisol de Musicas


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