New Reviews: November 1, 2004

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

Issa Bagayogo
Six Degrees Records

Kora master and music maestro, Issa Bagayogo, fuses Malian traditional music with contemporary Western beats, elements, and electronica, without losing the identity of true, Malian elements. Issa's rustic vocals and female back up vocals conveys the North African spirit of great musical talent at its best. Overall, richly textured instrumentation and transcendental vocal stylings symbolize the ultimate direction of contemporary Malian music.

Marcel Khalife
Nagam Records

Lebanese composer, Marcel Khalife, showcases his talents on the oud. Marcel is accompanied by piano, double bass, vibraphone, tabla, riq, mazhar, congos, bongas, and violin. Each track is instrumental and characteristic of Lebanese folk music. However, the subtleties of Marcel's oud playing and accompanying instrumentation, distinguish Marcel from other musicians. Fans of Arabic percussion and oud music should certainly acquire Caress.

Darko Rundek & Cargo Orkestar

Cargo Orkestar front man and backbone of the group, Darko Rundek, performs contemporary folk music of Croatian origin. The vocals and guitar work of Darko Rundek, is accompanied by various brass instruments, Balkan and Middle Eastern percussion, European strings and several musicians on back up vocals. Most of the songs are sung in Croatian, but others are sung in French, Spanish, and English. Overall, Ruke combines the spirit of a Parisian lounge bar and Croatian hospitality to create an exciting musical experience. Fans of Balkan folk/brass, Klezmer, Parisian lounge jazz and Croatian folk music should check out Darko Rundek and his Cargo Orkestar.

The Unseen Guest
Out There

The stripped down, folk renderings of The Unseen Guest incorporate simple song lyrics backed by modest instrumentation. The instrumental backbone of Out There, includes typical folk instruments, but also Indian strings and percussion.

Tony Calle
Mood Swings

The Latin-inspired album, Mood Swings, signifies Tony Calle's Spanish and English vocal talents. Each track features Tony's versatile voice that effortlessly and sinuously encompasses the trumpet, drums, guitar, sax, flute, and keyboard arrangements. The entire album encompasses several Latin sub-genres, including Latin jazz, tejano, Brazilian lounge, Latin folk, rumba, Cuban jazz, and easy listening. Excellent music for those interested in innovative and soulful Latin music!

Amos Barzel

Italian musician and producer, Amos Barzel brings us an entire album featuring the piano. However, the piano is also accompanied by sax, strings, guitar, bass, and drums on some of the tracks. Moreover, some pieces are Latin-inspired. All of the tracks feature elements that evoke an emotional response. Fans of piano music will definitely be transformed after listening to Amos Barzel's Emotions.

Matthew J. Forss is currently a full-time student at Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is majoring in Biology and German Language/Culture. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. Also in 1998, he wrote a paper on Mongolian Ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over 100 CDs that represent dozens of different countries. His general interests include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.) In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing world music CD reviews for this site.