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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Jef Scott

By Doug Merlino
Published July 22, 2008

Saracen
Six Degrees

Jef Stott’s debut album opens on a high note with“Lamaset (Miami Mix)”—a swirling synthesizer club groove that morphs into a Middle Eastern oud melody, then segues into a stretch of Arabic vocals by singer Reda Darwish, and finally gives way to some serious hand percussion. The approach is typical of Stott, a San Francisco-based producer, who displays loving care to every detail on these songs, which mix electronic beats with North African and Middle Eastern melodies and acoustic instruments. Stott was trained as an anthropologist, and it shows – his understanding of the musical styles he is blending elevates this album far above the typical global groove. Songs such as “Medina Stepper,” which is based on a gnawa bass riff, a frenetic groove, and soaring vocals by MC Rai, are a joy. This is the rare collection that will be enjoyed by both fans of Middle Eastern music and people who just want to dance.