The Hot List: December 14, 1999

So many CDs, such little time! I think I've said that before -- so let's get right into the latest batch of hot World Music toc ome my way.

Misia is a Portuguese singer who is a princess of fado -- the national music of Portugal. Paixoes Diagonais (Erato) is her new album and features her beautiful vocals and simple, melodic accompaniement.

Travelling the Himalayas in Nepal and the birth of his children inspired American fusion artist Mark Hunton to creat Annapurna: The Towering Sky (Spotted Peccary/Green Sky Music). Fusing World, rock, jazz, and ambient, Hunton takes his listeners on a trip to from the tops of mountain peaks to back down again.

For collections of traditional, ethnic, and ethnomusicological recordings, Rounder is the first label to check out. Rounder Select features three releases in a series, focussing on the indiginous music from three distinct parts of the world: Music from Yemen Arabia: Samar, Ethiopian Urban and Tribal Music: Volume 2, Gold from Wax, and Sacred Music from New Guinea: Windim Mambu. Each of these recordings were created on location in the 1970's and are representative of the instruments and musical styles of these regions.

Field recordings are known for their authenticity. What they lack in production they make up for in capturing a specific moment in time, and are invaluable resources for ethnomusicologists. And no ethnomusicologist made more of an impact with his field recordings and studies like Alan Lomax. Rounder has released The Alan Lomax Collection, a series of his recordings. Each album features a specific region such as the two-CD series Caribbean Voyage, field recordings from Calaloo and the West Indies. Going back a little farther in time is Bahamas 1935: Chanteys and Anthems from Andros and Cat Island. Remastered to 20-bit digital from original metal and acetate (in other words, a normal tape recording), these rcordings were made for the Library of Congress from 1933-1946.

The Alan Lomax Collection also gathers Lomax's European field recordings, such as Italian Treasures. Recorded in the 1950's, Folk Music and Song of Italy (a sampler of different traditional song styles), Calabria (songs of work and celebration sung by fishermen, women, and children), and The Trallaleri of Genoa (featuring trallalero, an improvised five-voiced male polyphonic style), capture specific elements of Italian musical culture. All of the releases in The Alan Lomax Collection have detailed liner notes with history, maps, lyrics, and photos.