BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

World Music Awards yank Radio 3's image into the 21st Century
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The Independent Culture

With a bunch of outrè young types playing outside on a truck to welcome the crowds as they arrived at Edinburgh's grande dame of music venues, it was clear from the start that this wasn't a night for your traditional Radio 3 listener. The appearance of co-host Benjamin Zephaniah in a kilt celebrated the World Music Awards' maiden excursion - in their third year - outside London.

Now comprising ten pan-global categories, the event fetes the expanded popularity of some non-Anglo/American music and capitalises on it to gain exposure for lesser-known forms and traditions. The awards also seem to be catching a new generation of artists from Africa to central Asia, and in the process helping to yank Radio 3's image into the 21st century.

The one revered veteran who did feature among 2004's winners, the Buena Vista Social Club vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, was sadly detained in Cuba by a nasty attack of bronchitis. A short film about his life and music cemented the evening's torch-passing dynamic, before a parade of resplendent young talent took to the stage.

The Senegalese trio Daara J, the winners in the Africa category, have reclaimed hip-hop as originating in Africa, and mingle it with traditional chants and resonant a capella harmonies, while retaining the genre's pugnacious vitality.

With the awards' only criteria for consideration being an artist's preservation of some dynamic creative relationship with traditional music, the judges displayed a laudable broad-mindedness in interpreting their brief. Sets of decks featured prominently throughout the night, with the inaugural holder of the newly introduced Club Global category, Brazil's DJ Dolores, regaling a capacity crowd for a half-time half-hour with a blend of breakbeats, samba grooves, street-sourced samples and sizzling brass licks. Europe winners Ojos de Brujo, a punk/ carnivalesque ten-piece from Spain, also had one member spinning the discs.

Not that softer or folkier approaches were neglected. The Critics' Award winner Rokia Traore, from Mali, opened with a mesmerisingly sensual, soulfully forlorn ballad, while Uzbekistan's Sevara Nazarkhan, who took the Asia/Pacific crown, wove a hypnotic spell with her minimally accompanied, undulating vocals. The night's loudest applause, though, went to Iraqi heart-throb Kadim Al Sahir, who combines pop stylings with ancient Sufi writings and original poetry - and whose symbolic significance here was both timely and moving. Sue Wilson

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