New Reviews: May 2005
Reviews by Matthew Forss
V/A 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. V/A 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! V/A 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. V/A 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! V/A Mali 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. V/A 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! V/A Afro-Latin Party Putumayo 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.