Bekkas is a leading Gnawa musician who sings and plays the oud, as well as acoustic guitar and guembri, the three-stringed bass-like instrument that provides the trance-inducing pulse of Gnawa music. The Gnawa, in turn, are spiritual brotherhoods formed in Morocco among slaves brought there from sub-Saharan Africa over the centuries. Bekkas has collaborated with a number of jazz players, including saxophonist Archie Shepp, pianist Joachim Kuhn and drummer Hamid Drake, concentrating on the more adventurous end of the jazz continuum.
It's hard to call The Globe Sessions a stumble, but its stripped-down, straightforwardness paled in comparison to the dark pop-culture kaleidoscope of Sheryl Crow's eponymous second album. That's why C'mon, C'mon, Crow's long-delayed fourth album, is such a delight – it's the sunny flip side of that masterpiece, a skillful synthesis of classic rock and modern sensibilities that's pretty irresistible. Crow has turned into the professional she always acted she was – she not only crafts songs impeccably, she knows how to record them, filling the record with interesting sonic details, whether it's the Steve Miller-styled "woo hoo"s on "Steve McQueen" or subtle Mellotrons on "Over You."
The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream are among the first groups that come to mind when discussing classic power trios. Ireland's Taste, led by guitarist Rory Gallagher, were also there at the beginning. They were raw, rocked hard, and were more devoted to the blues. Gallagher kept the trio format long after going solo, and became a fine songwriter as well. Crow Black Chicken are his countrymen. Christy O'Hanlon (vocals, guitar), Stephen McGrath (bass), and Gev Barrett (drums, backing vocals) have soaked up his and his contemporaries' influences, as well other loud and proud trios: ZZ Top, Mountain, Gov't Mule, etc. Electric Soup is their debut long-player. It's an excellent showcase for CBC's stunning playing and excellent songwriting – the latter is something many of their contemporaries never learned. These are not mere riff-heavy stoner rock jams, but songs. While they keep things basic, CBC understand the place of melody and dynamics; they've soaked up their share of folk and country in addition to blues and guitar rock.
Hiring noted roots experimentalists Tchad Blake and Mitchell Froom as engineer and consultant, respectively, Sheryl Crow took a cue from their Latin Playboys project for her second album – she kept her roots rock foundation and added all sorts of noises, weird instruments, percussion loops, and off-balance production to give Sheryl Crow a distinctly modern flavor…