The European minstrels that spread folksong into the body of the continent derived their sense of form and matter from the poetry of Andalusia that arrived at the time of the Conquest of Hispania in about 711-721.
It was a unified body of work that boasted considerable vivacity, vocalization and eroticism — some of it in Arabic form — and spread out across Europe from the second half of the 9th century onwards.
Andalusia was also the main route to Europe for familiar instruments such as the rebec (the violin ancestor) and the rebab (the distant relative of the guitar.)
The polytonal ambiance, strict rhythms, clever ornamentation and the repeating notes made the sounds of Andalusia increasingly popular dance music. From these sounds flamenco was born.
Israeli singer-songwriter DAVID BROZA mixes his modern pop with this ancient music of the Spanish troubadours on his album “Andalusian Love Song.”
Songs such as “Bedouin Love Song” — which is a metaphorical study upon the fidelity and commitment that grows between a man and a woman during a relationship — share room with popular Spanish odes and folksongs with Moorish heritage. This particular number has wavelets of piano and dusty rhythms.
Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat paid lyrical homage to the everyoung ‘gypsy King’ on his song “Tío Alberto” (Uncle Albert) released in 1971. The Broza version is faster and much more robust. Hardened by the sun, bleached by rain. This song reminds us that life does not have to be short or damping. But it must be lived in celebration.
“Mi Niña Se Fue a la Mar” (My Little Girl Went to Sea) is a song that’s connected to Valencian singer Francisco “Paco” Ibáñez who used famous poems for his compositions. This version of the traditional rhyme has the resonant ripple of a mountain stream and the heart of an eagle.
Another Serrat favourite, “La Mujer Que Yo Quiero” (The Woman That I Want) had a Bossa nova style with hip-wiggling Cha-cha-chá flexibility. The latin-pop rhythms suit the piece well. This song on Broza’s collection reminds us that American swing-time rhythms were also influenced by Spanish / Arab musical expressionism.
This collection of transnational songs is an “exquisite tapestry” of traditional Arabic music [often sung in native tongue] as well as a collection of popular European compositions whose origins can be traced back to North Africa and that inform all our popular culture. The album is filled with unique, improvised tunes and splendid new arrangements. The artistry reflects on the cultural heritage that performers from the Middle East and Africa have given over centuries to European civilization.
Broza’s folk-rock style, with his leather baritones and sandpaper tenors, is often introspective and spiritual — but he never loses a sense of joy, romance and delight in his subject.
These songs celebrate the gypsy free spirit, the spiritual awakening that brings new love; and the questioning that we all have in our hearts about the strange relationships we foster across genders, generations, societies and nations.
Other David Broza albums, inclduing “Away from Home”  have also been highly praised.
In 2000 “Spanish Heart” gained him his second American release and earned Broza recognition as one of the most important musicians on the folk-rock scene. Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, Jackson Browne, Townes Van Zandt and Wyclef Jean have all collaborated with the artist.
David Broza will fly to London April 27th to play the Union Chapel.
Words: Neil Mach 2017 ©