New Reviews: March 2005
Reviews by Matthew Forss
Shukar Collective Urban Gypsy World Music Network Diverse vocalizations and instrumentation signify Romania's Shukar Collective. A predominantly urban and contemporary release of fast word play, bluesy vocals and contemporary, electronic beats of trip hop origin are trademark characterizations of Urban Gypsy. Contemporary beats and European/Middle Eastern percussion of whirling dervish nature leave the listener intrigued and inspired to travel to the heart of Romania's musical culture in the streets of Bucharest or Constanta. Debashish Bhattacharya Calcutta Slide-Guitar World Music Network The Indian slide-guitar has been popularized by Calcutta's very own Debashish Bhattacharya. Debashish plays the 22 and 14-stringed guitar and the slide ukulele. The tabla and tambura also accompany Debashish's contemplative raga pieces. Vocals are absent. Fans of slide-guitar music will love Calcutta Slide-Guitar. Moreover, Debashish performs the slide-guitar music using modified guitars with sympathetic strings. Calcutta Slide-Guitar is a unique journey into Indian slide-guitar music that is performed using Debashish's original three-finger picking technique. A lifetime of study and research certainly has paid off with the release of Calcutta Slide-Guitar. Beyond The Pale Consensus - Live In Concert Borealis Records Yiddish folksters, Beyond The Pale, clairvoyantly express the Klezmer spirit through classical, folk tunes. Consensus was recorded at Al Green Theatre in Toronto, Canada in 2004. The music contains various emotive qualities typical of Klezmer music. The violin, bass, accordion, piano, clarinet and mandolin instruments are used in the mostly non-vocal recording. However, Josh Dolgin and Yeva Medvedyuk lend their vocal talents on a few tracks. A remarkable recording encompasses the Bulgarian and Romanian rhythms, bluegrass, reggae, Celtic and Balkan infusions. Even the purists would celebrate the release of Consensus. A contemplative, energetic and inspirational Klezmer release! Lino Cannavacciuolo Segesta Marocco Music Segesta is a richly textured and rhythmically diverse album exploring the melodies of Southern Italy and blending them with Arabic infusions. Various vocals by Elena Ledda, Peppe Barra and Rosa Balistreri are backed by percussion as varied as the performers. Some instruments used include water drum, harp, bouzouki, violin, bass, clarinet, piano, kalimba, organ, viola and bottle. Each track invokes a danceable sensibility with melodious vocalizations in a contemporary setting. Lino certainly knows how to work with the most talented musicians in the region. Be prepared for an exquisite musical ride! Also, check out Lino's other work, albeit, a more classical recording of the Mediterranean region, titled - Ca Na. Various Artists Irish Music - Dublin To Donegal World Music Network The timeless music of Ireland has enchanted many generations. The Rough Guide Series release, introduces us to the best of folk music from Dublin to Donegal, Ireland. Various jigs, reels, tunes, songs, polkas and vocals from groups such as Flook, Dervish, The Prodigals, Paddy Keenan, Cran, Altan and many others are included on this exciting release. The characteristic instrumentation iconic with Ireland include the fiddle, whistle, guitar, accordion, piano, fife, pipes, banjo and bouzouki are included. A great, contemporary collection for the Irish music connoisseur. English and Irish vocals are present. Julian Franks Jewel In The Lotus Great Mothers Hand Records Jewel In The Lotus is a contemporary compilation inspired by Indian and Nepalese culture. Englishman Julian Franks, enthralled by South Asian culture, composes a uniquely contemporary album with spoken words, female vocals and choral arrangements. The contemporary arrangements are backed by shenai, dilruba, didgeridoo, violin, tabla, bamboo flute and tamboura. Jewel In The Lotus is a diamond in the rough for eclectic world music fans. A variety of musical styles, instruments and hauntingly beautiful vocalizations signify Julian Franks' charismatic message of sharing the foundational music of South Asia with the rest of the world. Jewel In The Lotus is the culmination of Western melodies meeting Eastern instrumentation and culture. Linton Kwesi Johnson Live In Paris Wrasse Records Reggae vocal maestro, Linton Kwesi Johnson, released his second live album, Live In Paris, after his 1985 Grammy-nominated release - LKJ: Live In Concert With The Dub Band. Live In Paris features several songs by frontman Linton and his Dennis Bovell Dub Band. Live In Paris was recorded at the Zenith in Paris, France in 2003. Linton's previous hits and uncanny, lyrical realism establishes him as a universal reggae icon. Linton is backed by sax, bass, violin, guitar, drums, flute and keyboards. An essential album for fans of classic reggae. Live In Paris is also available on DVD from Wrasse Records. The Chieftains Live From Dublin - A Tribute To Derek Bell RCA The unexpected passing of harpist and multi-instrumentalist, Derek Bell, inspired the group to honor a fellow band-mate. Live From Dublin incorporates jigs, reels and tunes that are mostly instrumental. The vocalizations are purely Irish and uniquely Chieftain-esque. Many of the tunes are energetic. Danceable tendencies and somber laments are characteristic of the material on Live From Dublin. A very special album for long-time Chieftain fans. An essential piece of Irish music history. Tete Alhinho Voz Times Square Records The subtle, free-flowing musicality of Voz, instills a sense of happiness and peacefulness. Tete's voice emanates effortlessly, as if floating on the ocean waves near her Cape Verdean homeland. Simple instrumentation and supple vocalizations are similar to other artists of the region including, Cesaria Evora. The precise musical style on Voz include mornas and coladeras. Voz, which translates to "voice", is an essential recording from a small, but burgeoning music scene in the Cape Verde islands. A highly recommended release for the Cape Verdean, and even Afro-Cuban music fan. Various Artists A Tribute To Amalia Rodrigues Times Square Records Amalia Rodrigues was an iconic fado singer from Portugal, before her untimely passing in 1999. Amalia's passing inspired her guitarist, Jorge Fernando, to produce an ode to the fadista on A Tribute To Amalia Rodrigues. Several male/female vocalists and musicians lend their talents on the tribute album. A variety of poetic laments, songs, tunes and romantic ballads convey the emotive elements and spirit of Amalia. Portuguese fado, jazz, Tropicana and classical music are prevalent throughout. A perfect album for long-time Amalia fans and everyone interested in Portuguese fado. Peppe Barra Guerra Right Tempo The actor and singer, Peppe Barra, presents us with an adventurous musical treat of theatrical and operatic vocalizations with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern instrumentation. The many varied instruments do not distract from the vocal performances. You will hear violin, viola, cello, guitar, bouzouki, bass, trumpet, cymbals, mandolin, oud, accordion, drums and others throughout the album. Peppe is also joined on vocals by several other people. A highly infectious and professional production to say the least. Guerra, which translates to "war", should bring peace to everyone with this effort. One of the best Italian releases of 2003! If Italian art could speak - Guerra would be it's voice. Lino Cannavacciuolo Ca Na Marocco Records The classical renderings of Lino Cannavacciuolo are presented on Ca Na. The Italian violinist is joined by Elena Ledda on vocals and other musicians on viola, cello, piano, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, bass, percussion and drums, complete Lino's classical repertoire. Ca Na contains soaring instrumentation with a chamber-esque approach. Contemporary instrumental music meets classical musical elements on Ca Na. Contemplative, yet exciting instrumentation entices the listener by stirring up images of a relaxed or romantic evening on a Venetian gondola. An album of contemporary Italian music that should not be missed! Astor Piazzolla Tango Legend: Innovator & Bandoneon Virtuoso World Music Network Astor Piazzolla was a renowned tango musician from the 1950's until his death in 1992. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1921, Astor became established as an innovator of the bandoneon. Tango Legend is the result of hundreds of tango compositions and countless performances spanning nearly 40 years. Astor created lively instrumentals and revived the tango genre. Astor incorporated piano, bass, violin and guitar instrumentation to back up his masterfully played bandoneon. Some tracks are performed before an audience. Each track arouses suspense and playfulness with immense precision and direction. The tango world lost a legendary tango musician. Support tango music by acquiring Tango Legend: Innovator & Bandoneon Virtuoso - you will not be disappointed! Motion Trio Pictures From The Street Asphalt Tango Records The Polish accordion trio, Motion Trio, revinvented the classical sounds of the accordion for a contemporary audience on Pictures From The Street. The raw, authenticity of accordion music is procured even more by the fact that Motion Trio do not incorporate electronics or samplers in their music. In the end, you receive masterfully produced tunes that definitely reflect the group's academic know-how of the accordion and all of its intricacies. Accordion fans should rejoice for such an authentic recording of musicianship. Elena Ledda Amargura Marocco Music The glorious voice of Elena is portrayed with classical, Italian instrumentation on Amargura. Amargura, which translates to "bitter", is a purely Italian recording with elements of classical jazz and Afro-Cuban tropical leanings. Elena's Italian vocals effortlessly accompany the orchestral instrumentation. This is what Italian popular music should be. Kermit Ruffins Kermit Ruffins Putumayo Records Kermit Ruffins is a jazz trumpeter and vocalist from New Orleans, Louisiana. Kermit's self-titled release includes several songs from his now out-of-print Justice Record releases. Soulful vocals and old-time jazz rhythms in the vein of Louis Armstrong signify Kermit's greatest contribution to the genre of jazz music. A truly classical effort essential for every jazz fan! Liner notes are included in English, Spanish and French. Glengarry Bhoys Mountain Road Keltic Cross Entertainment The Celtic and Scottish excursions of the Canadian-based group, Glengarry Bhoys, perform melodic, folk ballads with electric guitar on some of the songs. The mostly vocal album incorporates strong, Celtic percussion and instrumentation, with the addition of bagpipes, trumpets, bass guitar and keyboard. Mountain Road is a contemporary album with Celtic/Scottish roots. Great music for fans of contemporary Celtic music with a truly modern twist. Purists may cringe - but Mountain Road succeeds in conveying the true Celtic spirit through music for generations to come. Various Artists New Orleans Putumayo Records The legendary jazz scene of New Orleans, Louisiana is featured on Putumayo's latest release, New Orleans. A variety of male and female musicians lend their voice and instrumentation throughout the entire album. Jazz piano and brass instrumentation accompany the bluesy vocals. Fans of swing, jazz and blues should not miss an incredible introspective look into authentic, New Orleans jazz music. Louis Armstong, Kermit Ruffins, Deacon John and many others are included on the album. Liner notes are available in English, Spanish and French. Various Artists Central Asia: Uzbekistan To Kazakhstan - Sounds Of The Silk Road World Music Central The musically diverse region of Central Asia is featured on one of Rough Guide's latest release. The traditional and popular music of the region is included from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Male and female instrumentals and vocal music pieces are also included. The instrumentation is superb and includes the dutar, dombra, sato, tanbur, violin, tar, accordion, setar, komuz, kobyz, guitar and various drums. Some musicians include Yulduz Usmanova, Sevara Nazarkhan, Ashkabad, Turgun Alimatov and Munadjat Yulchieva. Fans of Central Asian music should acquire Central Asia without hesitation. Techung A Compilation Of Tibetan Folk And Freedom Songs Kunga Records Tibetan-born and American raised, Techung, performs various folk songs from earlier recordings. Pleasant male and female vocals accompany some of the songs. Contemplative instrumentation incorporate the Tibetan lute, violin, mbira, drum set, tabla, congas and keyboard. All of the songs are sung in Tibetan. English lyrics are included in the liner notes. A highly recommended album of Tibetan authenticity. Oscar Reynolds River Of Light - Music From My Soul, Bolivia Karumanta Music Oscar Reynolds, a native Bolivian, brings us the sounds and rhythms of Bolivian and Afro-Peruvian origins. Oscar invited other musicians from Argentina, Peru and Spain for River Of Light to complete his bands' sound. Overall, the instrumentation and percussion are characteristic of puro music; which is the Bolivian form of flamenco music. The guitar, bass, charango, cajon, synthesizer and antara (pan pipe) round out the instrumental ensemble. Vocals are absent on all of the tracks. A very refreshing album for flamenco or South American music fans! El Kapitan Retroscape Marc One Music Productions Retroscape is an album immensely inspired by the progressive rock bands of the 1960's and 70's. El Kapitan do not use any vocals to convey their musical message. Each track utilizes piano, guitar, bass, organ, synthesizer, mellotron, clarinet, virtual drums/percussion and electronic sampling. The entire album incorporates melodic and spacious guitar stylings amid electronic percussion that conjures up the early work of the German instrumentalist rock group, Tangerine Dream. Elements of smooth jazz, trip hop and atmospheric music do not distract from the progressive rock foundation. Great music for inspiration, relaxation or transportation back to another place and time of rock's greatest era.