New Reviews: September 2005

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Various Artists
The Rough Guide To Celtic Music
World Music Network  

The Rough Guide To Celtic Music takes the listener beyond the traditional Irish borders of 
Celtic music. In fact, music from France, USA, Canada, Scotland, England, Wales and Spain 
can be heard on this incredible compilation. The diverse, Celtic talent is certainly 
widespread and displayed by musicians such as Natalie MacMaster (Canada), Skolvan (France) 
and Bohola (USA). A contemporary work of jigs, reels, ballads and innovative instrumentals 
and vocals will not disappoint the traditional, Celtic aficionado. Fiddles, harps, flutes, 
pipes, mandolins, bodhrans and other instrumentation are present. The Rough Guide To Celtic 
Music is also an excellent companion to The Rough Guide To Irish Music. So, how long does 
it take to explore the world's Celtic music? After 18 songs and 70 minutes, I think we know 
the answer to this question!  

Various Artists
The Rough Guide To The Music Of Balkan Gypsies
World Music Network   

The Rough Guide To The Music Of Balkan Gypsies explores the music of the Rom populations 
in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Armenia and Turkey. Gypsy music 
contains lively and celebratory instrumentation and vocalizations. Hints of Arabic percussion, 
whirling violins, energetic brass and heart-felt vocals from men and women are characteristic 
of the Balkan region. In fact, the symbolic and always enjoyable cymbalom (hammered dulcimer) 
instrument is present throughout. Veteran singer, Esma Redzepova (Macedonia), performs a 
catchy and danceable tune titled "Romano Oro". Other well-known groups, including Shukar 
Collective, Boban markovic Orkestar and Mostar Sevdah Reunion showcase their unique, yet 
quintessential Gypsy rhythms. Fans of brass bands, horas, polkas, Klezmer music and Balkan/Gypsy 
music should make room in their music collection for Balkan Gypsies. 

Various Artists
The Rough Guide To The Music Of Brazil: Rio De Janeiro
World Music Network    

Brazil is often on the forefront of musical expression and ingenuity when it comes to global 
music scenes. Many styles are inherent to Brazil and Rio De Janeiro in particular. Carnaval, 
bossa nova, jazz, carioca, choro and a myriad of other traditional and contemporary styles 
emanate from the busy, city streets to the surrounding jungle. Brazil: Rio De Janeiro features 
many musicians, male and female, that may be unfamiliar to some of us. Don't let unfamiliarity 
fool you into thinking this is a mediocre release of Brazilian music, because that would be far 
from the truth! Brazil: Rio De Janeiro brings us catchy, revolutionary songs of city life in a 
highly infectious pop mixture. Of course, European, African and American rhythms also find 
their way into the songs. Nonetheless, the music of Rio De Janeiro is nothing short of 
innovative. The immense instrumentation and varied texture of the compositions are amazing. 
Elements of smooth jazz, rock, funk and other styles come to mind. Whether you are a beginner 
or seasoned listener of Brazilian music, you should find tranquility and enjoyment in the 
smooth sounds of Rio De Janeiro's latest musical foray! 

Tito Puente
The Rough Guide To Tito Puente
World Music Network       

Latin music king, Tito Puente, was easily heralded as an influential and remarkable musician, 
performer and composer to ever touch the hearts and minds of Latin music listeners. Tito's 
musical career began in the late 40's and continued unfettered until his death in 2000, shortly 
after his release of Mambo Birdland. Tito managed to work with and organize some very 
talented bands over the years, while working with such notables as Celia Cruz, Vicentico 
Valdes and Miguelito Valdes. The Grammy-award winner incorporated vibraphones, timbale, horn 
and drum arrangements in the mambo, pachanga, salsa, jazz and boogaloo styles. Classic vocals 
and exciting percussion arrangements entice the listener to do nothing short of dance. The 
tune familiar to many, Oye Como Va, is included, among 20 other stunning tracks. Long time 
fans of Tito Puente would love this release because it draws upon his work from 100 albums 
over 50-some years. Overall, Tito Puente is great for the beginner and who has an eclectic 
interest in Latin jazz.   

Various Artists
The Rough Guide To Salsa Dance
World Music Network   

Salsa Dance is the latest World Music Network release to delve into the world of salsa music. 
Actually, salsa music was termed in the 1970's to describe all types of Latin music to a 
general audience. The spread of salsa from Latin American countries and the USA to Europe, 
Africa and even Asia, reinforce the staying power and pervasive qualities of Latin music. 
Salsa Dance features many diverse groups including Africando, Bobby Rivas, Conjunto Colores, 
Merengada, Grupo Gale and many more! Brassy tunes, classic arrangements, soulful vocals, 
dance-stepping beats and vibrant originality are only some of the words used to describe this 
seemingly indescribable genre. This is not your average salsa music! In order to experience 
the best salsa dance music available, you must acquire The Rough Guide To Salsa Dance! Your 
feet will be happy you did! 

Sierra Maestra 
Son: Soul Of A Nation
World Music Network  

Cuba has been a hotbed of musical activity for years. One of the prominent musical styles to 
come out of Cuba has been the son style. Son incorporates several sub-genres of percussion 
and vocal music.  Son: Soul Of A Nation includes classic songs of Cuba's preeminent son era 
between the 1920's and 1940's. Lively renditions and ageless vocalizations pervade the album's 
musical strengths. Moreover, the album was recorded in Havana, Cuba to pay reverence to the 
great singers and composers of the early, son style. Latin and Cuban music lovers should not 
miss out on this important and iconic release. Also, liner notes describing the songs and 
lyrics are included. 

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.