New Reviews: May 2005

Reviews by Matthew Forss

The Sahara: Moorish Traditions To Desert Rock And Roll
World Music Network     
The contemporary music of Saharan, Africa, incorporates bluesy, electric guitar, 
Andalusian melodies, simple percussion and soaring vocals that remain virtually unchanged 
from centuries ago. The Sahara presents us with a musical masterpiece of popular and lesser 
known musical artists. Mauritania's Malouma and Mali's Tartit Ensemble and Tinariwen are 
probably the most popular outside of their respective countries. The Sahara. is by no means 
an exhaustive collection of Saharan music; but listeners will nonetheless relish and admire 
the incredible musical diversity from countries often unheard of in the global music realm. 
Overall, male and female choruses, electric guitar from Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Libya, and 
Mali make The Sahara. a recognizable and formidable album worthy of the utmost praise. 
Saharan music fans everywhere should acquire this very fine recording from World Music Network.

Bolivia: La Paz To Potosi
World Music Network   
Bolivia, a country known for traditional, Andean panpipes, and charangos, contains much 
more music than one would think. Bolivia: La Paz To Potosi, possesses male and female vocals, 
varied instrumentation and danceable tracks that blend European instruments with traditional 
Bolivian instruments. Various Bolivian strings, flutes, and percussion are used in several, 
different musical folk styles. Bolivia. is an eclectic collection of the very best of Bolivian 
music today! Moreover, an extensive booklet includes liner notes of the musicians and 
instruments. Bolivia. is a highly, infectious musical odyssey that will not disappoint South 
American music fans. Crystalline instrumentation, sweeping vocals and hundreds of years of 
musical history and tradition make the music of Bolivia even more enticing. Purely brilliant!   

Acoustic Brazil
Putumayo Records  

Over the years, a multitude of Brazilian music albums have been released with varying 
degrees of success. However, none seem to adequately tap the vivacity, talent and originality 
as Putumayo's latest release, Acoutic Brazil. Well-known, accomplished, and lesser known 
musicians lend their vocal abilities and instrumental prowess on Acoustic Brazil. Caetano 
Veloso, Gal Costa, Marcio Faraco, Rita Ribeiro, and many others are featured in the 
compilation. Lively samba, bossa nova, jazz, and variations and sub-variations of each 
style are also included. Overall, this is a very high quality album that not only contains great 
music, but a portion of the album proceeds also benefits the children of Brazil. 

Bottleneck Blues - Slide Guitar: Legends & Modern Masters
World Music Network  
Bottleneck Blues explores the roots or rural, Southern blues music, by way of the steel 
guitar. Bottleneck refers to a certain technique that produces a sliding sound of the 
strings, which is created from a piece of bone, metal or glass worn a finger of the fretting 
hand. The effects are similar to Hawaiian slide guitar music. Bottleneck Blues is a 
compilation of instrumental and vocal songs originating from the 20th century. The tracks 
are carefully preserved, without losing the nostalgic quality of Southern sincerity, hope 
and perseverance. Music by Sylvester Weaver, Bukka White, Willie Harris, Son House, Allen 
Shaw, and many more musicians are featured. An essential album for steel guitar, Southern 
blues and folk music fans! Highly recommended!  

Putumayo Records    
Finally, the music of Mali, Africa can be fully explored on a single, compilation album! 
Well-known musicians on Mali include Tinariwen, Habib Koite, Issa Bagayogo, Tom Diakite, 
Ramatou Diakite, Moussa Diallo, Mamou Sidibe, and Keletigui Diabate. The melodious sounds 
of the calabash, kora, guitar, balafon, ngoni, and talking drum precisely convey the musical 
attitudes of the region. Male and female vocals and choral parts accompany the bluesy, 
jazzy, and folksy dance beats. Mali is a purely contemporary compilation with traditional 
roots of equal valor. Importantly, Mali is not meant to be an exhaustive resource of Malian 
music; but rather a sample of poignant musicians with diverse stylings and varied musical 
experiences. An excellent source for the North African music fan!  Liner notes are included 
in English, Spanish and French.

Sudan: Desert Rhythms & Savannah Harmonies
World Music Network  

Jazzy vocals, soaring chants, modern and traditional instrumentation and orchestral 
arrangements showcase some of the incredible variability within Sudanese music. Traditional 
drumming, rap beats, jazz compositions, Arabic pieces, and tropical rhythms infused with 
Central Asian, Eastern European, and South Asian melodies are used. Artists like Setona, 
Abdel Gadir Salim, Emmanuel, and others, bring us a good selection of diverse music from 
Sudan. Listeners should expect to hear contemporary vocal hits utilizing a blend of 
traditional and Western instrumentation. Desert Rhythms & Savannah Harmonies runs the 
gamut of remarkable vocals, dazzling instrumentation, all in a perfect package of musical 
delight. Essential for North African music aficionados! 

Afro-Latin Party

Afro-Latin Party, as the title suggests, is an energetic release of African and Latin 
sensibilities. Musicians and songs originate from Puerto Rico, USA, Cuba, Croatia, Jamaica, 
Senegal, Burkina Faso, UK, Martinique, and Congo. Africando, Cubismo, Chico Alvarez and 
Pepe are only some of the artists you will hear. Whirling instrumentation, typical of 
Afro-Latin jazz, utilizes son, salsa, mambo, waltz, hora, cha cha cha, and more. Vocals 
should not be ignored, as they effortlessly and appropriately coexist with the Latin 
beats. It would be hard to not have a party while listening to the music on Afro-Latin 
Party. An informative booklet includes artist and song details in French, English and 
Spanish. Let the party begin!   

Celia Cruz
Queen Of Salsa: The Fania Years
World Music Network  
Cuban salsa queen, Celia Cruz, spread the music of Cuban salsa to America in the mid 1900's. 
However, she blossomed in the 1960's and became a household name. Queen Of Salsa: The 
Fania Years, features her music previously recorded between 1966 and 1992. Celia worked 
with Latin music's best, including the late Tito Puente, Ray Barreto, and Johnny Pacheco. 
Celia accumulated 10 Grammy Awards throughout her career, until her untimely death in 2003. 
This is a classic recording of Latin music history. Celia's voice is strong and energetic. 
A real gem - almost unheard of in most Latin music today. The musical history of Celia's 
career and her accompanying musicians is included in the liner notes. 

Matthew J. Forss graduated from Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2005 with a B.A. in Biology. He is currently enrolled as a full-time, graduate student at Northern Michigan University-Marquette, Michigan. He is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. In 2000, 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 300 CDs that represent over 150 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 and Azerbaijan), North Africa (especially Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Libya and Morocco), Scandinavia and Pacific Islands (especially New Zealand, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia). He also enjoys studying Uzbek, Tamasheq, Swedish and German linguistics. In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing World Music CD reviews for this site.