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One of the best albums to hit the market in recent times is the 2010 album Asmara All Stars, whilst generally marketed in the world music sections of newspapers, magazines and music portals, it's an album that could have a rather wide appeal.
Some people haven't even heard of Eritrea, the tiny country in the horn of Africa let alone familiarised themselves with their music scene, this album is a great introduction to the music of this East African country.
The Asmara All Stars are a collaboration of artists and they blend various styles - notably jazz, soul, reggae, traditional music and a raw blues sound. The band have various singers and sing in 8 different local languages, each one suiting the type of song it's in, the band come across as North African in terms of the languages they use and the local acoustic instruments played.
They are rather changeable throughout the album though and also have a slow, cool jazz sound with wind instruments played softly and tunefully, the band have a very clean sounding intricate modern blues guitar present in a lot of the songs, there's reggae beats and a general jolly, uplifting, upbeat tune to a lot of the music.
Occasionally the vocals might be a little bit too high pitch for my liking although they are always in tune, some of my favourite tracks are without a doubt the opening, exciting guitar number Amayo, the laid back and relaxing Eritrean Girl and the dance worthy Adunia, this album is so varied that I really suggest you give it a listen yourself to see whether you like it, the music is of top quality though. If you enjoyed the neighbouring Ethiopian jazz compilations then you'll most definitely want to give this a swirl.
I should add that this album was produced by none other than Parisian Bruno Blum who is famous for the club version of Bob Marley's War featuring Haille Selassie's speech.