A Jamaican In Cairo
Green Queen Music
December 3, 2010

Track list
  1. Iree Ites
  2. A Jamaican In Cairo
  3. Cane Juice Blues
  4. Elhem-1 feat. Amina Annabi
  5. Diaspora feat. Raiz
  6. Nile feat. Amina Annabi
  7. Ya Salam feat. Amina Annabi
  8. Ya Benti feat. Amina Annabi
  9. A Ride On The Orient Xpress
  10. Running For Cover feat. Bob Andy
  11. Running For Cover (Zion Train Remix) feat. Bob Andy
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
The 11 track cd "A Jamaican In Cairo" is a remarkable and refreshing piece of work from London based Diaspora. In 2006 the latter was commissioned by the English National Opera to co-compose and arrange the score for the opera "Gaddafi: A living myth" in collaboration with Asian Dub Foundation staged at the London Coliseum. It was during this time that the beginnings of "A Jamaican In Cairo" project took shape.

The core of Diaspora is formed by Italian born composer, producer and founding member Luca Gatti, versatile French composer/musician Stephane René and Baheeg Ramzy Mikhail, who not only added his vocal and violin skills to the project, but also brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise gained through a long and prolific career. Known as 'the master of the Maqam' (the Arabic scale system) he has worked with many of the great figures in Arabic music, including the much celebrated singer and composer the late Mohammed Abdel Wahab and the legendary Om Kalthoum (Umm Kulthum).

Musically Diaspora has made a very modern fusion from a very ancient diffusion! Respect is paid to King David's music... the music of the lost tribe... the ancient roots of Rastafarianism. The listener is treated to Arabic strings snaking their way around the kette drum as the Nyahbinghi riddims give new life to seductive Arabic scales, while Reggae skanking and traditional brass fills are transported to the Nile delta on the currents of rippling darbuka. The vocalists involved in this project, all well established in their respective fields, tell tales of roots and migration.

From a reggae point of view it's interesting to see that Keith Anderson, better known as Bob Andy, has been involved in this project. This well respected Studio One veteran takes on vocal and lyrical duties for "Running For Cover". It's a superb reality tune that comes across a haunting riddim driven by a truly great bassline. There's even a nice alternate remixed version done by Neil Perch of Zion Train included here. The joyful sounding title track "A Jamaican In Cairo" also carries a strong Reggae vibe and is worth hearing. Although being World Music, Raiz's "Diaspora" and Amina Annabi's "Nile", both underpinned by the same uptempo riddim, will surely appeal to the listener with an open ear and mind. Also worth hearing is "Cane Juice Blues", "Elhem-1" and the slow paced 'one drop' tune "Ya Salam" with its alternately sung English and Arabian lyrics.

All in all this Diaspora album, which most of the time makes you think you're listening to the soundtrack of an intriguing movie, brings the listener a very fine fusion of styles.