Monday, May 29, 2006

Cheika Rimitti, 1923-2006; Hamza El Din, 1929-2006


Aside from their lives in music, homelands in northern Africa, and the proximity of their deaths, Hamza El Din and Cheika Rimitti had little in common. Rimitti was a wild, anti-authority figure. I became aware of her when she released this 1996 album, featuring guest artists as diverse as Robert Fripp and Flea. There was a bit of a "Rai scare" at the time; the music seemed poised to become the new reggae. It never happened, and Rimitti's May 15 death was reported in the New York Times only yesterday. She was 83. This song, from the absurdly rich Global Divas set, comes from her pre-Western catalog. Considered the "father of modern Nubian music," Hamza El Din brought an academic precision to his work. He died a week ago today in California. He was 76. On this beautiful selection from 1999's A Wish, he plays an Arabic classical piece on oud.

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