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Nigel Kennedy may have lost -- and now regained -- his first name, but he never parted with his adventurous spirit. On East Meets East, the path-breaking classical violinist joins the Kraków-based band Kroke to explore traditional musical styles from eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, and the result is a beautiful crossover collection that takes in klezmer, Gypsy, and other folk-inspired styles. Kennedy's knack for this music is clear on every track, and he blends in with the three-man Kroke like he's one of their own (in fact, he calls Kraków his second home and has often revealed a soft spot for folk music in his concerts). Surprisingly, perhaps, he never steals the spotlight, preferring in the lyrical numbers to soar above the trio and spin out gorgeous melodies with his shimmering tone, while in the fast-paced dances, he doesn't hesitate to get down-and-dirty with the earthy rhythms. Other guest musicians join in, too, adding some plugged-in flavor to the up-tempo tracks and extra lushness to the slower ones, and vocalist Natacha Atlas provides a taste of Arabia on the opening "Ajde Jano." Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar's landmark West Meets East albums may be the inspiration here (especially as Menuhin was Kennedy's mentor), but the British violinist is nothing if not an innovator. Whether playing jazz, gussied-up classics, or the folksy music on this engaging album, Kennedy never fails to surprise.
Performance CreditsNigel Kennedy Primary Artist,Violin,Electric Violin
Mo Foster Electric Bass,Guest Appearance
Natacha Atlas Vocals,Guest Appearance
Miles Bould Percussion,Guest Appearance
Aboud Abdel Ali Violin
Aboud Abdul Aal Violin,Guest Appearance
Jerzy Bawol Accordion,Vocals
Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra Strings,Performing Ensemble,Guest Appearance
Tomasz Kukurba Flute,Percussion,Viola,Vocals
Tomasz Lato Double Bass
Natasha Atlas Vocals
Technical CreditsHarry Kandel Composer
Jaz Coleman Producer
Goran Bregovic Composer
Andy Green Engineer
Annabel Wright Illustrations
Dariusz Grela Engineer
Sam O'Kell Engineer
Wojciech Gruszka Engineer
John Stanley Producer,Liner Notes